8 June 2016

Did you register to vote yesterday?

Watching the news this morning, I was astounded to hear that the government’s website for the EU referendum was unable to cope with the obvious rise in traffic, which caused it to close down two hours before the published deadline, leaving thousands of people unable to register. brexit

Yesterday, as you may have read, I wrote about voter registration for the big Brexit vote closing at 23.59 that evening. And, like most media sources, I directed those who still needed to provide their details to the government website, trusting it to be in a good working order.

It would be natural to assume that, as this is the biggest vote for a generation, the government would have its ducks in a row to handle the obvious surge in demand as the deadlines approached. It is fascinating to see the claims on social media that someone might have deliberately crashed the registration site. It is possible, but I’m not surprised by the amount of traffic that hit the site when you consider the gravity of the vote for which people are registering.

Whilst there has been no official confirmation about exactly what went wrong, I believe it would be unacceptable for thousands of people to lose their vote due to a technical error on an official website. How is it even possible that a stronger infrastructure wasn’t in place? For something as important as this, a referendum that has the potential to change the future of our country; how can such a vital step be missed?

Perhaps, a simple chat with the hosting provider might have been enough to ensure a more flexible internet solution was in place; one that would be able to cope with a spike in traffic any deadline of this type was almost certain to cause.

The number of people who still needed to register was well documented, with an extraordinary focus on the looming application deadline in the media throughout the day. A spike in traffic in the evening should have come as no surprise, particularly with Cameron and Farage taking part in a live TV debate at the same time!

Blaming those who waited for the last couple of hours to complete their application is simply out of order. It’s standard behaviour to have a rush just before time is up.

A deadline is a deadline, and those who tried to register to vote before the original cut-off vote should quite rightly be given another opportunity to complete the form, rather than being shamed for opting-in last minute.

What do you think? Should the application deadline have been extended?

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