Lok Sabha Elections 2024: What are Exit Polls? How it is different from opinion polls?

The official results for the Lok Sabha 2024 elections will be declared by the Election Commission of India on June 4. 

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Voting for the seventh phase of the Lok Sabha elections will be held on June 1. After this, all eyes will be on the results. However, before this, exit polls will start coming in on the evening of June 1. Through these polls, it will be estimated how many seats each party is expected to get. Different agencies in the country will release their respective figures. However, how accurate the poll data will be will become clear after the election results are declared.

Odisha TV violated the rule 

The rule says that exit polls can be released only 30 minutes after the end of the last phase of voting, but a case of violation of the rule has come to light in Odisha. A TV channel here has broadcast the exit poll. Following this, the Election Commission directed the Chief Electoral Officer of Odisha to take immediate action against Nandighosa TV. Let's understand, what an exit poll is, how it is conducted, what its rules say, what the punishment for breaking them is, and how an opinion poll differs from an exit poll? How accurate are exit polls? 

What is an exit poll? 

An exit poll is a type of election survey, which is prepared based on voters' responses. On the day of voting, representatives of news channels and agencies conducting exit polls are present at the polling stations. These representatives ask voters questions and record their answers. Their answers are analyzed, and it is estimated where the voters' inclination lies. Only voters are included in this survey to keep the estimates as close to the counting results as possible.

When you can see exit poll in India? 

As per the rules, exit poll data cannot be released before 6:30 pm on the day of the last round of polling. 

Strict punishment 

There are laws and guidelines regarding when exit polls will be released. The Representation of the People Act 1951 states that exit polls cannot be released until all phases of voting are over. The rule says that if any news channel or survey agency does not follow this rule, then 2 years of imprisonment or a fine or both can be imposed for the violation.

Exit polls give glimpse of election results

Exit polls provide a glimpse of election results. However, whether these will be accurate or not cannot be confirmed before the results are announced. Many times, these predictions have proved to be accurate, but at times, they have also been contrary to the results. However, the chances of this happening remain slim.

When it started? 

Exit polling in the world started in the Netherlands. On 15 February 1967, Dutch sociologist and former politician Marcel Von Dam laid the foundation of exit polling. Marcel von Dam's assessment regarding the election results turned out to be absolutely accurate. The rule says that if any news channel or survey agency does not follow this rule, then 2 years of imprisonment or a fine or both can be imposed for the violation.
 
Exit polls formally started in India in 1996. This was done by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS). Then journalist Nalini Singh conducted an exit poll for Doordarshan. Data for this was collected by CSDS. The poll predicted that BJP would win the Lok Sabha elections, and that is exactly what happened.

Difference between exit polls and opinion polls 

Generally, people consider exit polls and opinion polls to be the same, but there is a difference between the two. An opinion poll is also a kind of election survey, but it is conducted before the elections. All people are included in its survey, regardless of whether they are voters. In opinion polls, area-wise questions are asked to people on different issues, and after analyzing them, a survey is released. In contrast, the exit poll takes place on the day of voting and is released 30 minutes after the last phase of voting. Only voters are included in this survey.

How accurate are exit polls? 

Exit polls guage public sentiment but their accuracy hinges on factors like sample size, geographic coverage, and voter candidates. While cluster voting patterns can be revealing, some voters may conceal their true preferences, leading to potential inaccuracies. 

Official results to be out on June 4 

The official results for the Lok Sabha 2024 elections will be declared by the Election Commission of India on June 4.