Friday, Sep 19, 2014
Written by Aleesha Matharu | Posted: September 29, 2013 12:08 am

The Election Commission of India (EC) has suggested to the Centre that there should be a law to ban opinion polls during elections. These are currently banned 48 hours prior to voting. Exit polls are already banned till the completion of polling since Parliament passed the Representation of the People (Second Amendment) Bill in 2009. The ban has been sought on the grounds that the polls confuse the voter,thereby affecting the sanctity of the process. A look at other countries and poll surveys:

Canada

Public opinion surveys assumed immense importance in the 1980s. It is now prohibited to publish the results of opinion surveys that identify specific political parties or candidates in the final three days before a poll closes.

US

The first known example of an opinion poll was in 1824 during the presidential election that pitted Andrew Jackson against John Quincy Adams. There are currently no legal restrictions on either the publication of pre-election opinion polls or exit polls.

UK

There are currently no restrictions on the publication of pre-election surveys,although the publication of exit polls taken before voting closes is prohibited by the Representation of the People Act (Amendment),2000. Although the figures of most elections have been generally accurate,opinion polls failed to predict the Conservative election victories of 1970 and 1992,and Labour’s victory in 1974.

Scandinavian countries

There are no formal legal restrictions against the publication of elect oral survey results during an election campaign. In practice,however,no media organisation publishes poll results later than a day before the election,and exit poll results are not published until all polling stations have closed.

South Africa

There is no prohibition on the publication of electoral survey results prior to an election. Exit polls,however,are banned by the 1998 Electoral Act.

Bulgaria

The law prohibits the publication of new electoral survey results at any point during the last 14 days of the election campaign,and also on election day.

Italy

Under Law No. 28/2000,a prohibition on the publication of opinion polls begins 15 days before election day and continues until the close of voting.

Russia

Article 47 of the Law on Elections for the Russian President,2002,prohibits the publication of any electoral survey results for five days prior to election day and on election day itself.

Singapore

The Parliamentary Elections Act,2001,imposes an outright prohibition on the publication of exit polls.

Australia

Australia has no legal restrictions on the publication of either pre-election opinion polls or–with the exception of Victoria–exit polls. Reportedly,the media rarely use exit polls due to experiences with erroneous results and the increased speed at which results are delivered.

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