Mass disenfranchisement at Murano

Published

Photo: Tom Bonnick

Photo: Tom Bonnick

Craig MacLellan

Over a thousand residents of Murano Street Student Village lost their right to vote in June’s European elections due to an “oversight” in the registration process.

This is despite Sanctuary Management Services, who operate the residence on behalf of the University of Glasgow, assuring all residents on arrival that they would be placed on the electoral roll.

The information pack which welcomes students to Murano Street states that: “You will automatically be registered to vote in Glasgow unless you specifically indicate otherwise in writing by mid-October of your first year of residence in the Village.”

However, when the election arrived, many found themselves unable to vote as they had not been enrolled on the electoral register.

Calum Johnston, a second year Medical student, found out that he wasn’t registered to vote by the time the deadline had passed, thereby losing his chance to vote.

He said: “By the time I found out I wasn’t registered to vote, it was too late to register with Glasgow City Council.

“I was really annoyed about losing my vote, as I’d assumed they had everything covered, and to find out it wasn’t was really irritating.”

Liam Turbett, a second year History student, explained that he only found out the day before the deadline closed that he had not been registered and that Sanctuary Management was not helpful in resolving the situation.

He said: “I only found out the day before the deadline for voter registration that I wasn’t registered. I called up the office at Murano Street, but they were quite vague about it all.

“They were barely aware in the office that there was an election, but they obviously hadn’t been given any direction on the matter.”

Mr. Turbett did manage to vote in the election, but was forced to personally register with the council. He explained: “I managed to get down to Glasgow City Council, a few hours before the deadline and registered myself.”

Lynn Wingate, Operations Manager for Sanctuary Management Services Glasgow, apologised for her company’s failure to enrol students on the electoral register.

She said: “SMS [Sanctuary Management Services] apologies for the oversight which resulted in eligible students living at the Murano Street accommodation not being registered to vote in June’s European elections at this location.”

“We can confirm that this oversight was restricted to Murano Street and the other sites we manage at the university were not affected.”

A spokesman for Glasgow University confirmed that the university had made Sanctuary Management aware of their disappointment and that safeguards would be put in place to ensure this would not re-occur.

He said: “We made our concerns about this situation clear to Sanctuary Management and we have now amended the registration procedures to ensure this does not happen again.

“Students can double check they are registered by contacting their local electoral registration office at Glasgow City Council.”

Laura Laws, President of the SRC, expressed her dismay at the situation.

She said: “It is disappointing that students in Murano Street didn’t have the opportunity to vote in the election in June.

“For many students turning eighteen, this would have been their first opportunity to vote and we hope that this won’t happen for the elections expected early next year.”

Laws also recommended that any student who does want to vote should register themselves with Glasgow City Council.

She said: “We would like to advise all students who are interested in voting in the next round of elections that they can register to vote online now on the Glasgow City Council website.”