Election silence

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Election silence, [1] blackout period, [2] [3] [4] pre-election silence, electoral silence, or campaign silence [5] is a ban on political campaigning or media coverage of a general election, before or during that election.

Contents

Operation

In some jurisdictions, such as Slovenia, Poland and Nepal, it is forbidden to try to convince people to vote for a specific candidate or political party on the day of election. Some jurisdictions have declared that, legally, election silence is in violation of law regarding freedom of speech. It is however used in some of the world's democracies "in order to balance out the campaigning and maintain a free voting environment". [5] Whereas in others, a more limited form of 'silence' operates where the media are prevented from commenting on campaign activities on polling day, and/or publication of opinion polls is illegal.

An election silence operates in some countries to allow a period for voters to reflect on events before casting their votes. [5] [ need quotation to verify ] During this period no active campaigning by the candidates is allowed. Often polling is also banned. The silence is generally legally enforced, though in some countries it is just a "gentlemen's agreement" between leading[ citation needed ] parties. [5]

Usage and practice

Overview

Election silences are observed in the following countries, amongst others. Their duration, before the election, is given in parentheses:

Bulgaria

The Constitutional Court of Bulgaria ruled in 2009 that both electoral silence and ban on opinion polls before the election day represented a violation of freedom of speech.[ citation needed ]

Canada

It is not permitted to "transmit election advertising to the public in an electoral district on polling day before the close of all of the polling stations in the electoral district". [12]

Prior to the 2015 Canadian federal election, [37] the distribution of election results in regions of the country where polls have not yet closed was banned, so results from ridings in the Eastern and Atlantic provinces would not influence results in the west. [38] This was upheld as lawful in a 2007 decision of the Supreme Court, R v Bryan . [38] [39] In January 2012, the Government announced it would repeal the prohibition "[as it] does not make sense with the widespread use of social media and other modern communications technology", upon the urging of the then Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand. [40] [41] [42] It was repealed by the Fair Elections Act on June 19, 2014. [43]

Although media organisations are not permitted to be present for the count of results or to enter polling rooms, they may shoot video or photos from outside of a polling room as long as the secrecy of the ballot is maintained and access to the room is not impeded. [44]

Between 1993 and 1998, the distribution of election surveys 74 hours before election day was banned. This was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada as violating section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Thomson Newspapers Co v Canada (AG) . [40] [45]

Slovenia

The Constitutional Court of Slovenia ruled in 2011 that a ban on opinion polls was unconstitutional. [46]

Until 2016, any mention of the candidate on the day of election was prohibited. Those who published positive or critical statements about parties or candidates on social media, online forums, or stated them for example in restaurants, were prosecuted and fined. [47] For over two decades, media and voters refrained from talking about politics on the day before the elections and on election day. In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that "not every opinion is propaganda", published a new definition of the term 'propaganda' and reverted a lower court judgement, which convicted a person who published "Great interview! Worth reading!" on Facebook. [48] [49] [50]

Hungary

The Constitutional Court of Hungary ruled in 2007 that a ban on opinion polls was unconstitutional, but upheld electoral silence. [51]

United States

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Burson v. Freeman (1992) that campaigning can only be limited on election day in a small area around the polling station. Any broader ban on speech would be unconstitutional. [52]


Related Research Articles

An opinion poll, often simply referred to as a survey or a poll is a human research survey of public opinion from a particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in ratio or within confidence intervals. A person who conducts polls is referred to as a pollster.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Voter suppression</span> Strategy designed to restrict specific groups of people from voting

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">2006 Canadian federal election</span> 39th Canadian federal election

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Electoral-Vote.com is a website created by computer scientist Andrew S. Tanenbaum. In the periods leading up to U.S. federal elections, the site's primary content is poll analysis to project election outcomes. Since the 2016 elections, the site also has featured daily commentary on political news stories.

Early voting, also called advance polling or pre-poll voting, is a convenience voting process by which voters in a public election can vote before a scheduled election day. Early voting can take place remotely, such as via postal voting, or in person, usually in designated early voting polling stations. The availability and time periods for early voting vary among jurisdictions and types of election. The goals of early voting are usually to increase voter participation, relieve congestion at polling stations on election day, and avoid possible discrimination against people with work and travel schedules that may effectively prohibit them from getting to the polls during the hours provided in a single election day.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elections in Lithuania</span> Political elections for public offices in Lithuania

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">2006 Mexican general election</span> General election held in Mexico

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">General elections in Singapore</span> Elections to the Parliament of Singapore

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">2010 Ukrainian presidential election</span> Presidential election in Ukraine

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<i>R v Bryan</i> Supreme Court of Canada case

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Election day</span>

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Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act was designed to prevent the transmission of any election results until polls were closed nationwide. Section 329 stated that:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">June 2015 Turkish general election</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Political funding in New Zealand</span>

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In the run-up to, during and after the Turkish general election of June 2015, numerous accusations of electoral fraud and violence were made by opposition parties. Electoral fraud in Turkey has usually been most extensive during local elections, where individual votes have significantly larger impact in determining local administrations. Although the 2014 presidential election saw little evidence of electoral misconduct, issues regarding voter records as well as extensive media bias have been controversial issues that have remained largely unaddressed. In both the local and presidential elections in 2014, several voters reported that ballot papers had been sent to addresses that are wrong or do not exist as well as voters that have been dead for a substantial amount of time.

In the run up to the next Israeli legislative election, various organisations carried out opinion polling to gauge voting intention in Israel during the term of the twenty-fifth Knesset. This article lists the results of such polls.

References

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