Exit Polls

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    In News

    • As voting for the Gujarat elections ends today, exit polls will be out by the evening.

    About

    • An exit poll asks voters which political party they are supporting after they have cast their votes in an election. 
    • In this, it differs from an opinion poll, which is held before the elections.
    • The Indian Institute of Public Opinion had conducted first such a poll during the second Lok Sabha elections in 1957.
    • It is supposed to give an indication of which way the winds are blowing in an election, along with the issues, personalities, and loyalties that have influenced voters.
    • Currently, exit polls can’t be telecast from before voting begins till the last phase concludes.

    Rules governing exit polls in India

    • Representation of the People Act, 1951: Section 126A of the act prohibits the conduct of exit polls and dissemination of their results by electronic or print media during a defined period.
      • The period of prohibition starts from the beginning of the hours fixed for polling in the first phase of an election and continues till the end of polling in the last phase of the election.
    • Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961: It provides guidelines on the conduct of exit polls and mandates that any person who wishes to conduct an exit poll must obtain prior permission from the ECI.
      • The rule also requires the pollsters to provide certain information to the ECI, such as the methodology used, the sample size, and the time and place of the survey.
    • Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995: The act prohibits the transmission or re-transmission of any program or advertisement that violates the provisions of the RPA Act, 1951, including the prohibition on the dissemination of exit poll results during the specified period.
    • Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021: The rules impose obligations on digital media platforms to ensure compliance with the provisions of the RPA 1951.
    • Note: Violations of these laws can result in penalties, including fines and imprisonment, as well as the cancellation of the registration of the media organization or the pollster.

    Major issues

    • Lack of structured questionnaires during exit polls leads to data often being neither collected coherently nor be analysed systematically to arrive at vote share estimates.
    • Political parties often allege that these polls are motivated, or financed by a rival party.
    • Critics also say that the results gathered in exit polls can be influenced by the choice, wording and timing of the questions, and by the nature of the sample drawn.

    Source: TH