The Exit Pollsters v. South Dakota

Sometimes people talk about exit polls being wrong. Usually, though, they're referring to accuracy, not ethics. In South Dakota, the thinking is that exit pollsters ...
by | May 15, 2008

Sometimes people talk about exit polls being wrong. Usually, though, they're referring to accuracy, not ethics.

In South Dakota, the thinking is that exit pollsters who come close to polling places are bad for the voting process. South Dakota law forbids exit pollsters from being within 100 feet of voting locations, instead of 25 feet, which is standard in most states.

The television networks fear that they can't poll accurately from that distance. They're suing the state to change the law, as the Associated Press reports:

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) -- The three major networks, CNN, Fox News and The Associated Press filed a lawsuit Monday asking a federal judge to strike down a South Dakota law that prevents exit polling within 100 feet of a voting place.

The law violates the First Amendment because it restricts the news organizations' speech and commentary about the political process and limits their opportunities to gather information about that process, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Sioux Falls, asks that the case be handled quickly because South Dakota's primary election is June 3, just three weeks away. It seeks a preliminary ruling before the primary to prevent South Dakota officials from barring exit polling within 100 feet of polling places.

(Hat tip: Ballot Access News)

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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