Relates to identifying the sources of campaign telephone canvasses or "push polls".
BILL NUMBER: S3863
TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the election law, in relation to identifying the sources of campaign telephone canvasses or "push polls"
PURPOSE : To ban "push-polling" unless said poll meets strict public reporting requirements. It also prevents legitimate scientific polling to be used to influence elections without meeting strict reporting requirements.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS : Subdivision 1, paragraph A of section 3-106 of the Election Law is amended to add language defining the practice commonly known as "push-polling." A "push-poll" is defined as:
* the misrepresentation of a candidate's background, morality, character, voting record or any other acts by a candidate to a voter;
* a poll done by telephone or personal contact from a list of names that is not obtained from a scientifically measurable or random sampling technique;
* a poll specifically meant to persuade voters rather than gather a random sample of information; and
* a poll which attempts to solicit a voter's opinion on what candidate they will vote for.
This section is also amended to require full disclosure of a "push-poll" including:
* the true identity of the caller;
* who commissioned the poll, conducts the poll, paid for the poll; and
* if the poll was paid for, or sponsored by, one or more candidates or political committees supporting one or more candidates.
Adds a new paragraph B to subdivision 1 of section 3-106 of the Election Law, codifying section 6201.2 of the rules and regulations of the state Board of Election. This section prohibits a candidate, political party or committee from attempting to promote the success or defeat of a candidate by disclosing the results of a poll, unless they report the following information to the state or local board of election, whichever applies:
* the name of the person, party or organization that contracted or commissioned the poll and paid for it;
* the name and address of the organization that conducted the poll;
* the total number of people in the polling sample, the geographic area covered by the poll and any special characteristics of the population included hi the poll sample;
* the exact wording of the questions asked and the sequence of the questions;
* the method of polling;
* the time period the poll was conducted;
* the number of persons in the polls sample, the number contacted who responded to each question and the number of persons who did not respond, and;
* the results of the canvass of poll.
Amends Section 14-106 of the Election Law to require "push-poll" scripts to be filed with state or local board of elections.
Adds a new Section 17-153 of the Election Law making "push-polling" unlawful in any primary, general, special or school board election unless at the beginning of the execution of the poll the person in contact with the voter tells the voter the true name of the sponsor or source of the poll and the name of the candidate(s) or committee on whose behalf the poll is being done. It defines classes of people, organizations and businesses that could be held criminally liable for participating, initiating, commissioning, or sponsoring an unlawful "push-poll." The section also makes violations of any section of this legislation punishable as a class A misdemeanor.
JUSTIFICATION : So-called "push-polls" are a deceptive campaign tool designed to influence public opinion. A typical "push-poll" uses a phone bank to call thousands of voters with questions that smear or denigrate the opposing candidate. Questions such as "if you knew that.candidate A was a drunk (or a womanizer or tax evader or drug user) would you still support him/her" are typical of "pushpolls". "Push-polls" are designed to persuade voters to vote against an opposing candidate. They invariably fail to identify the true source of the questioner, often masquerading as a legitimate survey company.
Legitimate polls may sometimes use questions to measure the potential impact of different, including negative, campaign messages but they are designed to measure the opinion of an electorate, not persuade. Legitimate polling provides voters with the correct name of the research firm conducting the poll. Legitimate polling only surveys a scientifically drawn small sample of voters. The bipartisan American Association of Political Consultants has condemned the use of "push-polls." This professional association has drawn a distinction between "push-polling" and the legitimate survey research.
"Push-polling" is the latest and most fashionable in a long line of political dirty tricks and has no place in New York State's political process. This legislation is designed to ban the practice of "push-polling" by requiring strict and comprehensive disclosure requirements to voters receiving calls or other contacts and to local board of elections. This legislation also codifies existing New York State Board of Elections regulations requiring the comprehensive disclosure of legitimate polling when the results of that polling are used to influence the outcome of elections.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : S.3931 of 2008
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None.
LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None.
EFFECTIVE DATE : This act takes effect the first of December next succeeding the date on which it becomes a law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 3863 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 2, 2009 ___________Introduced by Sens. STEWART-COUSINS, C. JOHNSON, THOMPSON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Elections AN ACT to amend the election law, in relation to identifying the sources of campaign telephone canvasses or "push polls" THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 3-106 of the election law, as amended by chapter 8 of the laws of 1978 and as redesignated by chapter 9 of the laws of 1978, is amended to read as follows: 1. (A) In addition to the powers and duties elsewhere enumerated in this article, the state board of elections, after public hearings, shall adopt a "fair campaign code"
[setting]WHICH SHALL SET forth ethical standards of conduct for persons, political parties and committees engaged in election campaigns including, but not limited to, specific prohibitions against practices of political espionage and other poli- tical practices [involving]WHICH INVOLVE subversion of the political parties and process, SUCH AS, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE MISREPRESENTATION OF THE CRIMINAL RECORD OR BACKGROUND, MORAL TURPITUDE, CHARACTER, VOTING RECORD OR OTHER SPECIFIC ACTS OR OMISSIONS OF A CANDIDATE, TO A POTEN- TIAL VOTER, BY MEANS OF PERSONAL CONTACT OR TELEPHONE CANVASS FROM A LIST OF NAMES OF POTENTIAL VOTERS NOT DERIVED FROM A SCIENTIFICALLY MEASURABLE AND RANDOM SAMPLING TECHNIQUE AND WHICH CONTACT OR CANVASS IS DESIGNED TO PERSUADE VOTERS RATHER THAN TO GATHER A RANDOM SAMPLE OF OPINION, AS A FOUNDATION FOR ASKING A POTENTIAL VOTER IN ONE OR MORE CANVASS QUESTIONS OR CANVASS SAMPLINGS WHICH ARE SPECIFICALLY DIRECTED AT PERSUADING A VOTER RATHER THAN AT GATHERING A RANDOM SAMPLE OF OPIN- ION, AND CONDUCTED IN PERSON OR BY TELEPHONE HIS OR HER OPINION OR HOW HE OR SHE WILL VOTE, AND SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS TO DISCLOSE THE TRUE IDENTITY OF THE CALLER AND BY WHOM THE CANVASS WAS COMMISSIONED AND BY WHOM IT IS CONDUCTED, SPONSORED AND PAID, AND IF PAID FOR OR SPONSOREDEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD09473-01-9 S. 3863 2
BY ONE OR MORE CANDIDATES OR BY A POLITICAL COMMITTEE SUPPORTING ONE OR MORE CANDIDATES, REQUIRING THAT FACT AND THEIR IDENTITIES TO BE DISCLOSED TO THE POTENTIAL VOTER. (B) NO CANDIDATE, POLITICAL PARTY OR COMMITTEE SHALL ATTEMPT TO PROMOTE THE SUCCESS OR DEFEAT OF A CANDIDATE BY, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, DISCLOSING OR CAUSING TO BE DISCLOSED, THE RESULTS OF ANY CANVASS OR POLL RELATING TO A CANDIDATE FOR SUCH OFFICE OR POSITION, UNLESS WITHIN FORTY-EIGHT HOURS AFTER SUCH DISCLOSURE, THEY PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION CONCERNING THE CANVASS OR POLL TO THE BOARD OR OFFICER WITH WHOM STATEMENTS OR COPIES OF STATEMENTS OF CAMPAIGN RECEIPTS AND EXPEND- ITURES ARE REQUIRED TO BE FILED BY THE CANDIDATE TO WHOM SUCH CANVASS OR POLL RELATES: (I) THE NAME OF THE PERSON, PARTY OR ORGANIZATION THAT CONTRACTED FOR OR WHOM COMMISSIONED THE CANVASS OR POLL AND/OR PAID FOR IT. (II) THE NAME AND ADDRESS OF THE ORGANIZATION THAT CONDUCTED THE CANVASS OR POLL. (III) THE NUMERICAL SIZE OF THE TOTAL CANVASS OR POLL SAMPLE, THE GEOGRAPHIC AREA COVERED BY THE CANVASS OR POLL AND ANY SPECIAL CHARAC- TERISTICS OF THE POPULATION INCLUDED IN THE CANVASS OR POLL SAMPLE. (IV) THE EXACT WORDING OF THE QUESTIONS ASKED IN THE CANVASS OR POLL AND THE SEQUENCE OF SUCH QUESTIONS. (V) THE METHOD OF CANVASSING OR POLLING WHETHER BY PERSONAL INTERVIEW, TELEPHONE, MAIL OR OTHER. (VI) THE TIME PERIOD DURING WHICH THE CANVASS OR POLL WAS CONDUCTED. (VII) THE NUMBER OF PERSONS IN THE CANVASS OR POLL SAMPLE; THE NUMBER CONTACTED WHO RESPONDED TO EACH SPECIFIC CANVASS OR POLL QUESTION; THE NUMBER OF PERSONS CONTACTED WHO DID NOT SO RESPOND. (VIII) THE RESULTS OF THE CANVASS OR POLL. S 2. Section 14-106 of the election law, as amended by chapter 8 of the laws of 1978, is amended to read as follows: S 14-106. Political advertisements and literature. The statements required to be filed under the provisions of this article next succeed- ing a primary, general or special election shall be accompanied by a facsimile or copy of all advertisements, pamphlets, circulars, flyers, brochures, letterheads and other printed matter purchased or produced and a schedule of all radio or television time, AND OF ANY CANVASSING DESIGNED OR SPECIFICALLY DIRECTED TO PERSUADE POTENTIAL VOTERS AND CONDUCTED EITHER IN PERSON OR BY TELEPHONE, AS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH (A) OF SUBDIVISION ONE OF SECTION 3-106 OF THIS CHAPTER, and scripts used therein, purchased in connection with such election by or under the authority of the person filing the statement or the committee or the person on whose behalf it is filed, as the case may be. Such facsimiles, copies, schedules and scripts shall be preserved by the officer with whom or the board with which it is required to be filed for a period of one year from the date of filing thereof. S 3. The election law is amended by adding a new section 17-153 to read as follows: S 17-153. UNLAWFUL CANVASSING. IT SHALL BE UNLAWFUL FOR ANY CANDI- DATE, POLITICAL COMMITTEE OR CONSTITUTED COMMITTEE, OR FOR AN AGENT OR EMPLOYEE OF, OR CONTRACTOR OR FIRM HIRED BY, ANY OF THE FOREGOING, OR FOR ANY OTHER COMMITTEE, ASSOCIATION, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, CAMPAIGN WORKER OR VOLUNTEER OR OTHER PERSON, TO INITIATE, COMMISSION, SPONSOR OR PARTICIPATE IN A CANVASS CONDUCTED EITHER IN PERSON OR BY TELEPHONE FROM A LIST OF NAMES OF POTENTIAL VOTERS NOT DERIVED FROM A SCIENTIFICALLY MEASURABLE AND RANDOM SAMPLING TECHNIQUE AND WHICH CONTACT OR CANVASS IS DESIGNED TO PERSUADE VOTERS RATHER THAN TO GATHER A RANDOM SAMPLE OFS. 3863 3
OPINION, OF POTENTIAL VOTERS RESPECTING ONE OR MORE OF SUCH VOTER'S PREFERENCES AMONG CANDIDATES OR FOR WHOM SUCH VOTER WILL VOTE, OR SOLIC- ITING SUCH VOTER'S OPINION ON A CAMPAIGN ISSUE, PRECEDED BY ONE OR MORE MISREPRESENTATIONS FROM THE KINDS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH (A) OF SUBDIVI- SION ONE OF SECTION 3-106 OF THIS CHAPTER, IN ANY INSTANCE IN CONNECTION WITH A SUBSEQUENT PRIMARY, GENERAL, SPECIAL OR SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION TO BE HELD WITHIN THIS STATE UNLESS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE EXECUTION OF THE CANVASS, THE PERSON IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE POTENTIAL VOTER IDEN- TIFIES TO THE POTENTIAL VOTER THE TRUE NAME OF THE SPONSOR OR SOURCE, OF THE CANVASS, INCLUDING THE TRUE NAME, IF ANY, OF THE SPECIFIC CANDIDATE OR COMMITTEE SUPPORTING A CANDIDATE ON BEHALF OF WHOM THE PERSON IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE POTENTIAL VOTER WILL BE ASKING QUESTIONS OR IMPARTING INFORMATION; AND, IF THE NAME OF THE COMMITTEE OR OTHER ENTITY OR PERSON WHICH HAS OR WHO HAS INITIATED, COMMISSIONED, SPONSORED OR PARTICIPATED IN THE TELEPHONE OR IN-PERSON CANVASS OF POTENTIAL VOTERS DOES NOT INCLUDE THE NAME OF THE CANDIDATE AFFILIATED WITH OR SUPPORTED BY SUCH COMMITTEE, OTHER ENTITY OR PERSON, THEN THE CANDIDATE'S NAME MUST BE DISCLOSED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE EXECUTION OF SUCH CANVASS, IN ADDITION TO THE NAME OF SUCH COMMITTEE, OTHER ENTITY OR PERSON. ANY CANDIDATE, POLITICAL COMMITTEE OR CONSTITUTED COMMITTEE, OR AGENT OR EMPLOYEE OF, OR CONTRACTOR OR FIRM HIRED BY, ANY OF THE FOREGOING, OR ANY OTHER COMMITTEE, ASSOCIATION, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, CAMPAIGN WORKER OR VOLUNTEER OR OTHER PERSON, WHO OR WHICH VIOLATES ANY OF THE FOREGOING PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE GUILTY OF A CLASS A MISDE- MEANOR, WHICH SHALL BE PUNISHABLE AS PROVIDED IN THE PENAL LAW NOTWITH- STANDING THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 17-166 OF THIS ARTICLE. S 4. This act shall take effect on the first of December next succeed- ing the date on which it shall have become a law, provided, however, that effective immediately, the addition, amendment and repeal of any rules and regulations necessary for the implementation of this act on its effective date are authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such effective date.