One of the features in Election 2010, my new iPhone app which gives you tons of information and live results on election night (which you can buy from iTunes here), is an Exit Poll which allows users to submit their vote anonymously. One question I have already been asked a few times by people who’ve bought the app is how they would be able to view this exit poll data after they’ve submitted their vote.

I’ll be honest, viewing exit poll data from within the app was a planned feature which I just didn’t have time to implement properly for version 1.0 (and hence, in time for the election). It turns out, though, that I should be rather glad that exit poll data is not available from within the app. This is because of Section 66A of the 2000 amendments to the Representation of the People Act 1983:

  • (1) No person shall, in the case of an election to which this section applies, publish before the poll is closed-

    • (a) any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by voters after they have voted, or
    • (b) any forecast as to the result of the election which is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information so given.
  • (2) This section applies to-
    • (a) any parliamentary election; and
    • (b) any local government election in England or Wales.
  • (3) If a person acts in contravention of subsection (1) above, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.
  • (4) In this section–
    • “forecast” includes estimate;
    • “publish” means make available to the public at large, or any section of the public, in whatever form and by whatever means;

    and any reference to the result of an election is a reference to the result of the election either as a whole or so far as any particular candidate or candidates at the election is or are concerned

The way I read that, had the app included data concerning exit polling I would have been on the wrong side of the law and potentially facing 6 months in prison. So, if I’m honest, this is one feature I’m not to upset about having put off.

As for the exit poll data itself, I’ll be making some it available (for seats where sufficient votes have been submitted to make it worthwhile) both on Twitter and on the Election 2010 web site after polls have closed at 10pm on May 6th. Hopefully there’ll be some interesting stuff come of it. Don’t forget also, if you’re attending a count you can use the app to report a result after it is announced – I’ll be watching for reports from the ground, and perhaps we’ll be able to break some news on the night!

At least I can sleep easy tonight. Unlike some other people.