Voters in Heavily Jewish London Borough Turned Away Due to Election Snafu

Among those unable to vote was British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis; the glitch was later rectified.

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Haaretz
British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis gives a speech as he attends a Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony at Central Hall Westminster, Tuesday Jan. 27, 2015, in London.Credit: AP
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Haaretz

As British voters went to the polls on Thursday in nationwide local and regional elections, residents of the heavily-Jewish London borough of Barnet encountered bureaucratic snafus that prevented many of them from voting.

Among those unable to vote were Britain's chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, and his wife, the Jewish Chronicle of London reported. The couple were advised to come back later, but could not do so as the chief rabbi was on his way to visit to the Jewish community of the Netherlands.

The north London borough of Barnet is home to the largest number of Jewish residents in the city, the Chronicle noted, and the mayor of Barnet, Mark Shooter, is himself Jewish.

The havoc, which was said to have affected all 155 polling stations in the borough, was blamed on incomplete voter lists being sent to election administrators. The Barnet Council website posted a notice later in the day saying that the glitch had been fixed, but adding that voters who had had tried to vote but could not return due to work obligations could make use of a proxy procedure to appoint someone by 5 P.M. local time to vote on their behalf.

London is among the cities in which mayors are up for election. The Labour Party candidate, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani background, was accused of having links to Islamic extremists, an allegation that the party branded a "smear campaign." If elected, Khan would be the city's first Muslim mayor. His opponents include Conservative Party candidate Zac Goldsmith, who is of Jewish ancestry.

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