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Differentiate between an opinion poll and an exit poll. Do you think these polls can impact free and fair elections by affecting voting patterns? Critically comment.

Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

3. Differentiate between an opinion poll and an exit poll. Do you think these polls can impact free and fair elections by affecting voting patterns? Critically comment. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Indian ExpressIndian Express

Why the question:

As voting for Gujarat elections ends today, exit polls will be out by the evening. In India, results of exit polls for a particular election are not allowed to be published till the last vote has been cast.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the difference between exit and opinion poll and their impact on elections.

Directive word: 

Critically comment – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary. When ‘comment’ is prefixed, we must express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining the concept of opinion polls and exit polls.

Body:

In the first part, write about the differences between opinion polls and exit polls.

Next, mention the various drawbacks of the above – Manipulations, Voter influencing, corruption, Propaganda, Consensus among political parties, Ban on exit polls etc.

Next, mention the need of the above– freedom of speech, a sample survey, not enough to influence voters etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward how to properly regulate opinion and exit polls without affecting the free and fair elections.