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Election 2024

Exit polls 2024: When will they be out and do they even matter?

The EC has issued a ban on the publication of exit polls between 7 am April 19 and 6.30 pm June 1. The EC guidelines, while strict about the conduct and publishing of the exit polls, do not say anything about the seat predictions happening on social media by influencers and netizens.

News Arena Network - New Delhi - UPDATED: May 13, 2024, 04:38 AM - 4 mins read

Exit polls 2024: When will they be out and do they even matter?

Exit polls 2024: When will they be out and do they even matter?


Apart from campaigning and canvassing, only a couple of things are symbolic of peak poll season. Opinion and exit polls have been a part of the election landscape since the days of satellite TV. As debated, as accepted but mostly relied upon for speculating the election results. After the EC announced a ban on the exit polls starting from 7: 00 am on April 19 to 6.30 pm on June 1, the exit polls for the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections will be released after 6.30 pm on June 2. 

 

Which is roughly two days of a heads-up before the final results are announced on June 4. For understandable reasons, exit polls cannot be shown on either TV or in newspapers while the voting is going on in any part of India. Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, prohibits exit polls from being shown on any public platform while voting is happening.

 

It is only after all the voting booths have closed down and 30 minutes have passed ever since that the exit polls can be shown. These legalities and rules ensure that the polls do not affect people or their voting mindset. Any media house, publication or company that plans to conduct exit polls, must first inform the Election Commission to ensure the polls are conducted fairly without trying to change the election outcome. 

 

More on the lines of quick surveys, exit polls are conducted right after people walk out of a polling booth. They stand apart from regular opinion polls, which are conducted before elections. Between the two, exit polls have been relied upon for more accuracy. In India, the exit polls were indigenously developed in the 1960s by the Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.  

 

Given the long-drawn process that elections have lately become, this year too, the polls have been spread out into seven phases, making the exit polls all the more imperative for a sneak peek into the election results and what to expect. 



Exit polls are banned, but seat predictions continue

While the opinion and exit polls have been banned, this has not stopped seat predictions from being shared and speculated on social media. “How is this allowed? These days influencers command numbers and views no less than TV channels and other conventional platforms. They can collate data and share it instantly,” opines a user on platform X, next to a thread that says how the NDA may have already shed 20 of the 111 seats it won five years ago. A message that found itself being circulated and becoming viral. 

 

Among the many times that exit polls have been unreliable and completely wrong has been during the Lok Sabha Elections 2004, when the exit polls predicted the BJP in the lead with a win of over 240 seats. Similarly, during 2017, India Today’s Axis My India exit poll results predicted a win for the BJP with 134-160 seats, as compared to the actual results wherein the party secured only 77 seats while the TMC came back to power. 

 

In any nation, the government at the centre defines the shape that a country is going to take and what its people can expect. “Though sometimes inaccurate, exit and opinion polls prepare people what to expect and how their life is going to be affected by the near future government,” opines a netizen on the page of a political influencer, while adding, “Let’s face it, everyone is going to be affected regardless of who is coming to power. A little direction or political heads up in the form of such polls is not a bad thing.” 

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