27 February 2013

Kenya: Deadline for Publishing Opinion Polls Expires

Pollsters and media are now barred from publishing results of electoral opinion polls until after elections.

The Publication of Electoral Opinion Polls Act bars pollsters and media from publishing results of such polls five days from the polling day.

Section 7(1) of the Act provides that: "A person shall not publish the results of any electoral opinion poll on the day of the election or during the period of five days immediately preceding the date of an election."

The Act which was championed by immediate former Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale imposes fine of up to a million shillings or a year's jail term for anyone who disregards the law.

Section 8 outlining penalties states: "A person who commits an offence under this Act is liable to a fine not exceeding one million shillings or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, or to both."

Both those who publish or cause the publication of results of an electoral opinion poll during an electoral period are bound by the Act.

The Act came into force on November 22, 2012 with a raft of regulations of electoral opinion polling including that those publishing opinion polls name the sponsor of the poll, provide the date on which or the period during which the opinion poll was conducted; the population from which the sample of respondents was drawn.

Pollsters are also required by the law to provide information on the number of people who were contacted to participate in the opinion poll; the methodology used; the educational levels of the participants; and if applicable, the margin of error in respect of the data obtained.

Last Friday Ipsos Synovate released its final poll which indicated a statistical tie between Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and CORD's candidate Raila Odinga.

The poll said that Kenyatta will beat Odinga having polled 44.8 percent to 44.4 percent if the election was held last week.

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