Hundreds of university students have reportedly been turned away from voting in a crucial Labour/Tory marginal.
Tellers were using an out-of-date register at polling stations for the Newcastle Under Lyme seat, meaning newly-registered Keele University students were not able to vote.
The university’s history department tweeted the numbers turned away were in the hundreds.
Labour’s Paul Farrelly, who is hoping students will help him defend his majority of just 650 against the Tories, condemned the situation as “chaos” and said he would complain to the Electoral Commission on Friday, regardless of the outcome.
“The Electoral Services Department here in Newcastle is a shambles and there is chaos, which is denying people votes on a scale unprecedented in my 30 years fighting and organising elections.
“We have spent the past week fire fighting on over scores of postal votes, which have not arrived, and we not only have lots of registration applications that have not been processed, but people – including students – being turned away when they are indeed registered.
“Each passing hour is not only spoiling election day, but just adding to the issues for complaint, which I will be referring tomorrow to the Electoral Commission and other bodies for an independent, outside investigation.”
The local Labour party urged anyone turned away to return and make tellers ring the council to confirm they are on the register.
Jonathan Price, 21, was not able to vote and told The Independent: “It could actually make the difference here.”
History lecturer Ben Anderson told The Guardian: “The polling officers have been doing their best to sort that out but there’s clearly an issue.
“There were a number there holding their polling cards so I am sure there were genuine because the assumption is that they registered too late.”
The council tweeted that those who could not vote had not completed the whole registration process.
By the closing hours of the election, the polling stations apparently had received updated registers and people who were turned away were urged to go back.
Polls shut at 10pm but anyone queueing before then can still vote.