British voters make last minute surge only to be turned back

With the final results showing a fractured mandate with the three major parties unable to form a government on their own, the political parties cried foul saying that the turned back voters could have proved decisive.

As lawmakers, including Justice Secretary Jack Straw, said that this could lead to legal challenge in constituencies where the candidates ran close, the Election Commission promised to investigate why people could not cast their votes.

There were scenes of chaos at polling stations across Britain near closing time at 2200 hrs, with hundreds of people still queued up to vote.Voters staged sit-ins at the polling centres and at places they even tried to block poll officials from taking ballot boxes.
Hundreds of people were unable to vote in London and cities like Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool and New Castle.

In a scene never witnessed before in elections in England, record crowds of voters started swelling in voting queues just an hour before closing time.To cope with the unprecedented voters rush, some poll officers kept the voting open even after the 10 pm deadline while others downed the shutters, inviting the wrath of the voter some of whom had been in the queue for hours.

Election Commission chief Jenny Watson acknowledged that Britons voting system had been unable to cope with the surge of voters in many counties.
"The system creaked," she said, adding: "The Victorian vote system couldn't handle modern elections."

There were also reports of some polling booths running out of ballot papers, raising serious questions on the Electoral Commission's preparation for the closely contested election.

In his Sheffield Hallam constituency, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg went to offer his apologies to frustrated voters at a polling station in Ranmore after they queued for more than three hours.Labour candidate Jack Scott said he was angry as people may have been denied the chance to cast their vote. Former Hillsborough MP Helen Jackson said it left any close results open to legal challenge.Police were called to some booths in London where 50 people refused to leave the polling centres.Under UK election laws, voters must have been issued with ballot papers by 10 pm to be allowed to vote."Parliament will want to have look at this and we may have to change the law," the Election Commission chief said.

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