Publication of opinion polls may be restricted until polling is complete.
- Under such circumstances, a law restricting the publication of opinion polls for a limited period of time in advance of an election does not seem ipso facto to fall outside the aims contemplated in article 19, paragraph 2 [of the ICCPR; Freedom of Expression].
- Regulatory or self-regulatory frameworks should ensure that the media, when disseminating the results of opinion polls, provide the public with sufficient information to make a judgement on the value of the polls. Such information could, in particular: name the political party or other organisation or person which commissioned and paid for the poll; identify the organisation conducting the poll and the methodology employed; indicate the sample and margin of error of the poll; indicate the date and/or period when the poll was conducted. All other matters concerning the way in which the media present the results of opinion polls should be decided by the media themselves. Any restriction by member States forbidding the publication/broadcasting of opinion polls (on voting intentions) on voting day or a number of days before the election should comply with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights. Similarly, in respect of exit polls, member States may consider prohibiting reporting by the media on the results of such polls until all polling stations in the country have closed.
- All publicly-owned media, including public service broadcasters, should be under the following obligations during an election period: To ensure that any reporting of opinion polls and election projections is accompanied by sufficient information to allow the electorate to understand properly their significance.
- Since election-related opinion polls may have an effect on the vote itself, the publication and broadcasting coverage of opinions polls results should be regulated, providing, for example, that the source and other relevant information are included. Usually it is also forbidden to publish the results of opinion polls and projections immediately before and on election day (before the closure of the polling stations). If not already provided for, the introduction of such a deadline is generally welcomed.
- The conduct of opinion polls and exit polls -- especially when their findings can influence the judgment of a part of the electorate which has not yet gone to the polls -- is another area for consideration. Some jurisdictions consider any limitation on opinion polls or exit polls as an infringement of freedom of speech and expression, and hence unacceptable. On the other hand, some jurisdictions permit publication of such findings only after the polling is completed.
- The obligations to promote the enjoyment of the right to freedom of opinion and expression require that States guarantee the transparency of all aspects of political and electoral processes, and should particularly put in place measures to: (...) (f) Ensure that there is sufficient transparency around the means and methodology of opinion polling; and consider prohibiting the dissemination of polling results 24 to 36 hours preceding voting.