Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prematurely publishing election polls subverts democracy

The New Era should discontinue its disreputable practice of publishing regional morning exit polls in its early afternoon edition.

C-SPAN covered discussions of election improprieties and fraud on Wednesday. Reporters from the Associated Press and National Public Radio explained how exit polls conducted by their consortium are embargoed for each state until the polls are closed. The consortium is zealous in enforcing the ban and the media are fully cooperative.

According to the AP reporter, releasing poll information prior to the close of the poll can discourage some from voting and induce other to change their vote. It was explained that exit polls are useful for determining voter patterns for election reporting after polls close.

The following is a report from SLATE during the primary season of 2000:

"Bill Bradley: 50 percent
Al Gore: 48 percent

"Now, how can I give you these exit-poll numbers, while your favorite breaking news outlet can't? Because the tabulator of exit polls, the VNS consortium, doesn't release the numbers until the polls are closed. And why is that? Because the VNS members--ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Fox News, CNN, and the Associated Press--don't want to be accused of discouraging voters from casting their late afternoon or evening ballots. The taboo against contaminating the voter turnout is so strong that non-VNS members who learn the numbers don't release them, either. Of course, the taboo isn't so strong that it keeps the TV broadcasters who subscribe to the consortium from hinting broadly that 'early results indicate a massive McCain victory is taking shape in New Hampshire.'"

At the expense of democracy, the New Era willingly distorts the election practice in order to sell a few more copies and to achieve a vacuous 'scoop'.

NewsLanc urges the New Era to discontinue its unethical practice and, if it doesn't , encourages voters to scorn inquiries from New Era representatives during election day.