[EDITORIALS]Lift the polling results ban

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[EDITORIALS]Lift the polling results ban

Campaigning for the April 15 legislative elections has officially begun. The National Election Commission banned all actions that could influence the outcome of elections except for activities by candidates and registered campaign staff. The move is to allow voters to make a free will choice based on their political convictions.
We understand the government’s duty fully. But, it is hard to accept that media are banned from printing public opinion poll results, similar to the ban on personal, private gatherings like alumni reunions during the campaign period.
Making public opinion polls public is a media duty to fulfill the people’s right to know. In other developed countries, media are allowed to report opinion polls except for exit polls taken while voting is still being conducted on election day.
The Constitutional Court ruled six years ago that such a ban was constitutional, saying that voters could be swayed by the polls even if they were done fairly. Voters may support a candidate with a better chance of winning or sympathize with an underdog, the court said, adding that reporting poll results would distort the people’s true intentions and hamper the fairness of an election.
Despite the ruling, we again demand a change, because the development of the media no longer allows voters to cast ballots “blindly.”
Today, we live in the Internet era. Foreign Web sites can post the results of domestic polls. As we saw in the last presidential election, information spread fast through cell phones and the Internet. Ignoring the changing media environment and insisting on “blind but fair” elections is unrealistic. The ban on poll reports only widens the information gap between voters and allows inaccurate information to spread. That is an obstacle to exercising suffrage.
We admit that there are problems associated with the standards and reliability of the media and opinion research firms. But those can be resolved by setting standards for the fairness of polls.
Fear is the worst enemy in developing our society. The election laws must be revised as soon as possible to allow the media to report opinion poll results before the next election season.

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