Labour extends deadline for voter registration in leadership election after website crashes

Visitors were met with error message as Labour party's website crashed due to swarm in people trying to sign up for vote in leadership contest

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Labour has been forced to extend the deadline to register to vote in its leadership election after its website crashed due to a last-minute swarm in sign-ups.

Those hoping to have a say in electing Labour's next leader now have until 3pm to register. It comes after a chaotic process whereby anyone can pay £3 to become a "registered supporter" and be given a vote in the election.

The party decided to change the deadline after visitors to its website earlier in the day were met with a "502 Bad Gateway" error message.

Jeremy Corbyn, the hard-left MP who has taken the contest by storm after starting as the rank outsider, last night urged his followers on social media to sign up before today’s deadline.

A number of Labour MPs have called for the process to be suspended over growing evidence that the contest has been infiltrated by members of rival political parties wanting to hijack the process. Labour has barred 1,200 supporters but has insisted the election will go ahead despite growing evidence of “entryism” by left-wingers.

Simon Danczuk , the MP for Rochdale, became the latest Labour MP to call for a rerun of the contest. Hundreds of candidates who stood against Labour in local or national elections have been banned from voting in the election, but they will not be refunded the £3 they paid to sign up.

 

They include 214 from the Green Party, 37 from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, 13 Tories, seven from Ukip and one from the BNP.

High profile figures who have been barred include Tim Loughton, the former Conservative minister, and film director Ken Loach, who is a member of Left Unity.

Ed Miliband introduced the One Member, One Vote system after he won the 2010 leadership election due to the backing of trade unions, which enjoyed a block vote and accounted for one-third of the electoral college that chose the leader.

The reforms have led to 243,000 signing up as members or supporters since May’s general election. They now exceed the 201,000 full members the party had in May.

Labour insisted that its system is robust as it announced that it now has 282,000 full members, including 8,000 “awaiting verification”; 92,000 affiliated supporters from trade unions, 70,000 of whom are still to be verified and 70,000 registered supporters who have paid £3 to sign up, including 10,000  yet to be verified.

The deadline for applying is midday on 12 August and ballot papers will start to go out on 14 August. The first batches will go to people who were members before May, allowing the party more time to check the recruits. It is monitoring 20,000 social media accounts. Voting ends on September 10 with the result announced two days later. Labour said the process of stopping bogus supporters from influencing the contest will continue once the deadline for signing up passed.

On 11 August, senior Labour officials briefed the four leadership candidates in an attempt to reassure them  the system is secure. But the officials were unable to say how many of the 70,000 registered supporters would be individually checked.

 

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