‘Not the official tally’: Comelec cautions public vs exit polls amid ongoing overseas voting

April 11, 2022 - 11:43 AM
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Line of Filipino voters in Hong Kong on Sunday, April 10 (Facebook/Philippine Consul General to Hong Kong Raly Tejada)

Commission on Elections advised the public that an exit poll is not reliable amid the start of overseas absentee voting on Sunday, April 10.

James Jimenez, Comelec spokesperson, issued this advisory on Twitter. He noted that the official tally of votes comes after the national elections on May 9 end.

“An ‘exit poll’ is not the official tally of votes cast in the 2022 National and Local Elections,” Jimenez tweeted.

“Tandaan din na bibilangin lang ang mga boto ng Overseas Voting on May 9, AFTER the close of polls,” he added.

This tweet came after some social media users shared images of supposed exit poll results last Sunday.

The online users did not mention the sources of their data and the images on their posts.

A Twitter user later asked Jimenez to verify these alleged survey results.

“Sir @jabjimenez good day yung exit poll po ba na nalabas ngayon ay legit?” the Twitter user asked.

Jimenez then responded via quote tweet and said that any election survey results will only be reliable if they are released by a reputable pollster.

“As a general rule, unless na ang nag labas ng exit poll ay isang kilala at reputable na survey firm, hindi ito reliable. Lalo na sa social media, madaling gumawa ng official looking forms or graphics na mukhang legit,” he said.

According to Comelec’s Resolution 10730, exit polls refer to “a species of election survey conducted by a qualified individual or a group of individuals for the purpose of determining the probable result of an election by confidentially asking randomly selected voters for the names of candidates they have voted for, immediately after they have officially cast their ballots.”

The overseas voting period will close after election day in the Philippines on May 9, 2022.

On exit polls

Election lawyer Emil Marañon III reminded the public that releasing results of exit polls ahead of election day is considered an election offense.

“Sec. 5 of R.A. No. 9006 prohibits the announcement of the results of exit polls before the closing of the polls on May 9, 2022 as it promotes trending. Even if true, premature release of exit polls results is an ELECTION OFFENSE. Persons responsible may be arrested in flagrante,” he tweeted. 

Marañon cited the provision on Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Elections Act that stated the following rules on the results of exit polls:

  • Results may be released after the closing of the polls on Election Day
  • Must clearly identify the total number of respondents and the places where they were taken
  • Said announcement shall state that the same is unofficial and does not represent a trend

The same rule is also reiterated on Comelec’s Resolution 10730 for the conduct of the elections amid the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In Section 41 of the resolution, it was also clearly stated that any violation of the Fair Elections Act “shall constitute an election offense.”

“The Commission shall, through its duly authorized legal officers, have the power, concurrent with other prosecuting arms of the government, to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses and prosecute the same,” the section reads.

Meanwhile, OAV started on April 10, Sunday. Registered Filipino voters outside the Philippines can participate in the national elections by voting from this period until May 9.