News networks sue South Dakota

Lawsuit challenges prohibition of exit polling

ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CNN have joined an Associated Press lawsuit challenging a South Dakota law prohibiting exit polling within 100 feet of a voting station.

Lawsuit was filed Monday.

“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,” the AP said.

The news orgs’ polling reps have routinely worked within 100 feet of South Dakota voting stations in previous elections until a state official decided recently to crack down and enforce the law, according to the lawsuit.

“Exit polls provide information valuable to news organizations and scholars because they help analyze voting patterns according to gender, age, income, race, religion and other categories,” the AP said. “The information helps explain how and why people voted for or against particular candidates.”

The polls’ “accuracy and reliability will be harmed because exit pollers may not be able to question some voters, (who) may get into cars and leave before exit pollers can ask if they want to fill out questionnaires.”

A South Dakota state official argued that polling within 100 feet of voting stations “could interfere” with the voting process.

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