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Exit Polls in India

Topic covered:

  1. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.


Exit Polls in India


What to study?

For prelims: Exit polls- meaning and provisions governing them.

For mains: significance, need, concerns associated and need for regulation.


What is it?

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.


How are they regulated?

In February 2010, restrictions were imposed 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.


Why is the Election Commission (EC) opposed to media coverage of opinion polls and exit polls during a multi-phase election?

Both kinds of polls can be controversial if the agency conducting them is perceived to be biased. Critics say 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, and could have a distorting effect on the choices voters make in a protracted election, rather than simply reflecting public sentiment or views.


Why are exit polls criticised?

  • Critics and political parties say the agencies that conduct the exit polls could be biased in terms of the choice, words, timing of the questions, the methodology they use, and kind of sample they draw.
  • The sample group’s demographic behaviour, its economic status and various other factors used in tabulating the survey are also questioned.
  • Political parties also allege that exit polls are funded by their rivals and may not reflect the sentiment or views of the people accurately.


Sources: the Hindu.