Electoral Reforms In India

Explained: Exit Polls


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Exit Polls

Mains level : Ensuring free and fair elections

  • With the long and vitriolic-filled General Elections, spanning over seven phases, coming to a close, the embargo on the broadcast of exit polls was lifted.

Exit Polls in India

  • An election exit poll is a poll of voters taken soon after a voter walks out after casting his or her vote.
  • It is considered as an indicator to which party forms the government.
  • Unlike an opinion poll, which asks for whom the voter plans to vote, an exit poll asks for whom the voter actually voted.
  • Exit polls are conducted by a number of organisations.
  • This method is not new; it began back in 1957 during the second Lok Sabha elections when the Indian Institute of Public Opinion conducted a poll.

Regulating exit polls

  • Seeking an amendment to the RP Act to provide for a ban on both exit and opinion polls during a period specified by the EC in 2004 had approached the Law Ministry along with the endorsement of six national parties and 18 state parties.
  • The recommendation was accepted in part, and in February 2010, restrictions were imposed only on exit polls through the introduction of Section 126(A) in the Act.
  • The EC advises electronic and print media not to publish or publicise any article or programme related to the dissemination of results of exit polls during the prohibited period.

What does ECI advisory say about rules for predicting results?

  • The ECI is of the view that prediction of results of elections in any form or manner by way of predictions etc by astrologers, political analysts or by any persons during the prohibited period is violation of the spirit of Section 126A (of the RP Act).
  • It aims to prevent the electors of constituencies still going to polls from being influenced in their voting by such predictions about the prospects of the various political parties.
  • ECI, in exercise of the powers under sub-section (1) of Section 126A of the RP Act, 1951 has notifies the period during which conducting any exit poll is prohibited

Issue with exit polls

  • Both exit and opinion polls can be controversial if the agency conducting them is perceived to be biased.
  • As per critics, the projections of these surveys can be influenced by the choice, wording and timing of the questions, and by the nature of the sample drawn.
  • Political parties often allege that many opinion and exit polls are motivated and sponsored by their rivals.
  • They could have a distorting effect on the choices voters make in a protracted election, rather than simply reflecting public sentiment or views.
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