Monday, October 20, 2008

League of Women Voters Criticizes New Era Practice

In response to a NewsLanc inquiry soliciting the view of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania on the New Era's publishing of morning exit poll results in its election day afternoon edition, the following reply was received from Lora Lavin, Vice President for Issues and Action:

"At the national level the League has historically tried to pressure broadcasters not to air projections of election results before all the polls in a race have closed. This was aimed at the fact that the winner of presidential races was called before polls closed in the west and it was believed that this discouraged voters in western states from going to the polls with an obvious impact on local races. I would think that the same logic would apply in the case below.

"If, for example, the afternoon papers in Lancaster were to project that one of the presidential candidates is ahead in local exit polls this could discourage people from turning out who do not understand that Pennsylvania's electoral college votes depend on the popular vote statewide and their vote will still influence the statewide outcome.

"The same would be true of projecting the winners of other statewide races on the ballot this year. Also, using the western state analogy, depressed late day voter turnout could influence the outcome of local races.

"Traditionally, in Pennsylvania , the political parties monitor the polls and check off the names of those who have voted so they can make later afternoon and early evening calls to remind those registered in their party who have not voted that it is important they go to the polls."