21st December 2004
The Electoral Commission has made recommendations to the British Polling Council (BPC) in its report on the European Elections. These recommendations concern election and referendum campaign polls that may include interviews with people who have voted at the time a poll is taken (by post or other remote method). In respect of such polls members of the BPC have agreed to the following restrictions on the publication of poll data.
BPC members conducting polls during an election or referendum campaign seek to ensure their samples are representative of all voters. These campaign polls may therefore contain responses from people who have voted by post as well as those who have yet to vote. Other forms of voting may be introduced that allow people to register their votes before polling day. BPC members will publish voting figures for the whole sample (including people who have voted as well as those who have not done so) in accordance with the BPC rules of disclosure. However (as a specific exception to these rules) BPC members will NOT place in the public domain or cause to be published ANY data that relates specifically to the sub sample of people who have already voted at the time a poll is taken including their number within the total sample.
Such data, if it is collected, may only be published after the polling stations have closed.
The BPC has had initial discussions with the Electoral Commission and will seek an early opportunity to discuss in more detail with the Electoral Commission what further guidelines should be adopted by polling companies for polls conducted in postal only elections or in any future election when a clear majority of voters are expected to cast their votes before polling day either remotely or by post.