I saw mentions that nobody could tell the preliminary outcome of Brexit vote, because it was illegal to report on any numbers before voting concluded.
Is this rule/law specific to Brexit referendum, or does it also apply to other UK elections?
Politics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people interested in governments, policies, and political processes. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
This applies to all UK elections.
The Representation of the People Act 2002 inserted a section 66A into the initial 1983 of the same name and this read as follows. It is a criminal offence ‘to publish, before a poll is closed, any statement about the way in which voters have voted in that election, where this statement is, or might reasonably be taken to be, based on information given by voters after they voted.’
It is designed to prevent people not bothering to turn out to vote at the end because they know the way it will go. It does not stop people conducting their own private poll, and trying to profit on the knowledge (e.g betting on it), just on publishing the result in advance.
In the case of the EU referendum there was not an official exit poll conducted anyway (largely because the 'swing' methodology used in general elections can't be done for one off events, making an exit poll harder to do). The 'shock' that occurred was thus likely due to the private polls and indicators being out of sync with what actually happened.