Tolentino seeks exit polls guidelines amid plans to extend voting hours

October 27, 2021 Marlon Purification 185 views

SENATOR Francis Tolentino urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to set guidelines for survey firms over the release of their respective exit poll results in next year’s Presidential Elections amid plans to extend the voting hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Wednesday’s inquiry of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, Tolentino said an early release of exit poll results may influence the results of next year’s elections especially that the Department of Health’s (DOH) latest pronouncement that the minimum health standards being imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) can increase the voting hours during the conduct of the May 9 polls.

“Increasing the voting hours would likewise (will) enable the trending in exit polling—as part of the exercise,” said Tolentino.

Tolentino cautioned the poll body that an early release of the exit poll figures may lead to the so-called ‘bandwagon’ effect and voters will mostly like to choose those candidates who are leading in the post-election surveys rather than their preferred candidates.

The senator stressed that an early release of exit poll results in the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) may influence local voters, especially that absentee voters abroad are in different time zones and are allowed to vote earlier than those here in the country.

Under Republic Act No. 10590, ballots are made available for overseas absentee voters 30-days before the election day.

Tolentino noted the incident in the recent presidential elections in the United States, wherein the early release of exit poll surveys has greatly affected and influenced the outcome of the results, considering that it was a tight race.

Senator Imee Marcos, chair of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation concurred with the queries raised by Tolentino, noting that Filipino voters usually favor those candidates that are leading in surveys.

Dir. Norina Tangaro-Casingal of the COMELEC Law Department admitted that the poll body has yet to set guidelines on the schedule of the release of exit poll results.

Casingal said they will consider the voting cut-off time on when to allow the release of exit poll figures, depending on the recommendation of proper authorities considering that there is a need for an extended voting period due to the pandemic.