London: Britain's government on Wednesday rushed to extend the voter registration deadline for the upcoming European Union referendum after a website crash raised concerns that people would be denied a chance to vote.
Prime Minister David Cameron urged people to keep trying to register for the 23 June vote on whether or not to stay in the 28-nation bloc. A last-minute rush before the midnight deadline Tuesday stymied the efforts of many wishing to take part, leaving many furious at the technological glitch.
The government said it would extend the deadline to Thursday, but the move is expected to require emergency legislation.
The decision comes after a drive on social media to persuade young people to register. Young people are seen as being largely in favor of remaining in the European Union — and those campaigning for Britain to leave immediately accused the government of trying to skew the result.
Bernard Jenkin — a leading Leave campaigner — argued the government was acting on the "cusp of legality." He said that there needs to be enough time to challenge the new entrants.
"We are not a banana republic," he said. "We shouldn't be making up the rules for our elections as we go along. This is a shambles."
However, the Electoral Commission urged the government to act.
"No one should miss out on voting in this historic referendum because of the problem with the government's registration website last night," said Alex Robertson, director of communications at the commission.