The Election Commission banned both opinion polls as well as exit polls on the electronic media as the Lok Sabha election is being held in five phases from April 16 to May 13. There is an apprehension that these polls may influence the voting pattern in other phases of the election though there is no guarantee that their conclusions are anything to go by.
In the past, the results of opinion polls and exit polls have been wide off the mark on certain occasions. What these polls do for television channels is that they boost the TRP rating of the channels thereby bringing in more advertisement revenue.
The Indian law provides for a secret ballot. Since ballot papers have been replaced by electronic voting machines, it must be read as secret voting.
The idea is to help the voter to cast his/her vote fearlessly because nobody would know who voted for whom. That is the whole idea of placing the voting machine in a covered area away from the gaze of the election staff. Only the person casting the vote should know who he is voting for.
In spite of all this, we still find television reporters asking the people on the street as to whom they have voted for or whom they would vote if they have not voted already.
Also, some photographers step into the polling booth, walk around covered area and sometimes even click pictures showing the voter pressing the button on voting machine. That clearly gives away as to whom the voter has voted for.
So, where is the secret in the secret voting? It can be viewed by everyone. Similarly, in the case of secret voting the purpose of secret voting is clearly lost.
Why can’t the media be more sensible…and, maybe more sensitive? And, uphold some ethics in journalism?
Can’t we keep what the law wants to be kept a secret—a secret? After all, the voter has every right to keep his vote a secret.