U.K. lawmakers approved emergency legislation allowing more people to register to vote in the referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union, prompting anger among some “leave” campaigners who said it would favor those lobbying to remain. A last-minute rush by those wishing to register to vote ahead of the initial deadline of midnight Tuesday caused the government’s website to crash, leaving some unable to access the system. Prime Minister David Cameron, who is leading the push to persuade voters to stay in the EU, said he wanted those people to have the opportunity to take part in the June 23 plebiscite. The government subsequently introduced legislation to extend the deadline to midnight on Thursday, which was passed by lawmakers in parliament earlier in the day.
The government said a record 525,000 people registered to vote Tuesday, a significant number of them under the age of 34, an age group that polls show favor staying in the EU.
Politicians from across the political spectrum had called for an extension, and the Electoral Commission—the country’s elections watchdog—also urged the government to extend the deadline.
Leave.EU, a group campaigning for Britain’s exit, or ‘Brexit,’ said that it was unconstitutional for the government to alter election law during an election period and that it was looking into how it might challenge the decision.