History repeating: Voters could be turned away in 2015

By Alex Stevenson

The 2015 general election could see a repeat of "chaotic" scenes in which voters were turned away from polling stations, peers have warned.

The Lords' constitution committee said the government needed to act proactively to make sure people queuing when polls closed at 22:00 were able to cast their vote.

A Law Commission is currently undertaking a review of electoral law.

But it is not expected to report until 2017, raising the possibility that the 2015 general election could see a repeat of the scenes which caused such controversy on May 6th 2010.

"If we are to ensure there is never a repeat of the chaotic scenes we saw in 2010 the government must now amend the law to ensure voters in a polling station, or in the queue to a polling station, at 10pm on polling day are allowed to vote," committee chair Baroness Jay said.

"The government should make these changes before the next general election."

Peers in today's report proposed that voters who are present, or in a queue, at a polling station at the close of polls are entitled to vote.

Reports on the night of the 2010 election said voters were not allowed to cast their ballot in Manchester Withington, Chester, Penistone, Hackney South and Nick Clegg's constituency Sheffield Hallam.

In Birmingham an acting returning officer reportedly kept polls open to accommodate the public.

In Liverpool Wavertree voters were turned away because the polling station ran out of ballot papers.

The chair of the Electoral Commission, who gave evidence to the constitution committee in June, said at the time that more central coordination of general elections is the best way to avoid a repeat of the problem.