Newsmedia lawsuit against Blackwell

Newsmedia lawsuit against Blackwell

First, this was filed Nov. 1 2004..... BEFORE the election...

Second, what it says about exit polling...

10. In order to better inform the public about voting behavior, voting trends, and voter's reactions to important issues of the day, Plaintiffs conduct olls of voters leaving polling places on election days (sometimes referred to as "exit polls') at selected polling places throughout the country.

11. The exit polls are conducted as follows: Typically one polling reporter is assigned to each of the polling places randomly selected for the polls. The reporter stands just outside the exit of the building in which the polling place is located. Polling reporters are instructed to be courteous and businesslike and not to interfre with the election process in any way. The polling reporters approach voters after they leave the polling place in a scientifically pre-determined pattern (i.e., every fourth voter, every fifth voter, etc.) and ask if they would be willing to fill out a brief, anonymous questionaire. The typical questionnaire solicits voters' views on various political topics of the day and requests demographic information from each participating voter. Each participating voter is also asked how he or she voted.

12. Exit polls provide accurate data about voter behavior because of the near certainty that the persons interviewed have actually voted. The greater the distance between the polling place that the polling reporter is required to stand, however, the less reliable is the information gathered. A distance restriction will have a different impact on exit polling at any particurar precinct depending on the particular layout of the area - for example, how close the parking lot is to the polling place. Requiring polling reporters to stand at least 100 feet from the place where voters exit the polling place at all precincts is likely to substantially impact their exit polling activities and, accordingly, to substantially reduce the statistical reliability and accuracy of their exit polls.

The legal brief then explains how exit polls are used... eg. it talks about exit polls identifying a "gender gap" in 1980 presidential election, and again in the 1988 presidential primaries. It references 1992 exit polls being revealing of Buchanan's near success and Bush's defeat.

It reads "These examples illustrate the unique value of exit polls in permitting analysis of the voting patterns of various groups according to sex, age, income, race and religion. The information gathered from the exit polls has also been used by Plaintiffs in their election coverage and in formulating projections of the outcome of certain election contests .... 15. Exit polls are the most reliable and accurate method for gathering information from voters themselves on election day about how and why they have voted"

The basic argument of the brief is as follows:

That by restricting/enforcing the 100 ft. rule ... "the oral directive impermissibly restricts Plaintiffs' speech and commentary about the political process and thus violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as made applicable to the states through the fourteenth Amendment"

It requests the following

1. That the court find Blackwell in violation of 1st Amendment as made applicable to states through 14th Amendment

2. That the court enter a temporary restraining order against Blackwell to prevent him from enforcing the directive to not allow exit polling within 100 ft.

3 & 4. That court preliminarily and permanently enjoin Blackell, et. al from enforcing the order

5. That court order relief for reasonable attorneys fees


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