What are exit polls?
The exit polls are post-election polls, which are conducted after voters are finished casting their vote. The aim of such a poll is to predict the final result of the election based on the information collected by agencies from the voters who are done casting their vote.
Unlike an opinion poll, which asks the voter whom they plan to vote for, the exit poll asks the voter whom they actually voted for.
These polls are conducted by private firms and media organizations such as Today's Chanakya, ABP-Cvoter, News18, Republic-CVoter, ABP-CSDS and Chintamani.
How are they conducted?
The method of random sampling is used by the above-mentioned agencies to carry out exit polls. People from different age groups, gender, religion are asked by the agencies about their choice of vote.
While exit polls largely predict the outcome of the entire election, region or constituency specific exit polls are also released.
When are exit polls released?
The exit polls are only allowed to be published or broadcasted half an hour after the conclusion of the last phase of polling. The polls are released after approval from the Election Commission of India.
The Election Commission, exercising its powers stated under Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 prohibits the release of exit polls before the conclusion of polling, in order to safeguard democracy.
According to the Election Commission, publishing the prediction of the actual result before the conclusion of polling may possibly influence the minds of electors.
What does Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 state?
The section states that no person shall conduct any exit poll and publish or publicise by means of the print or electronic media, the result of any exit poll during such period. In case of a general election, the period may commence from the beginning of the hours fixed for the poll on the first day of poll and continue till half an hour after closing of the poll in all the states and union territories.
The section also prescribes that any person, who contravenes the provisions of this section, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both