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It's well established that vote anonymity is an important part of representative democracy (discussed elsewhere on this site).

I was listening to 538 podcast today, and they were discussing phone polling and specifically, how different countries have different measured level of trust that people are willing to give when a person asks their political opinions and choices on the phone.

At which point, the idea occurred to me - someone can actually figure out who individual people voted for by using phone polling (either take a legitimate poll's individual level data dump - assuming they are dumb enough to store per-phone call data - or for the slightly more devious, take a phone directory that has names, call people pretending to be doing a legitimate poll, and instead simply record name, # and who they said they voted for/would vote for).

Question: are there any notable jurisdiction that take such a concern seriously enough to take steps to prevent this risk? If so, what steps are those?

(e.g., one possible step would be to make it illegal to make public voting info obtained over the phone).

Related: Is there evidence that phone polling led to people's votes being "outed"? . Please note that these aren't duplicates - one asks if this actually happened, the other asks if there are steps taken to prevent it from happening, whether it happened or not.

  • If you don't want to be "outed", you are not obligated to answer anyone asking you who you voted for, at least in the US anyway. – Alexander O'Mara Dec 13 '16 at 4:40
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    @AlexanderO'Mara - what does that have to do with the question? – user4012 Dec 13 '16 at 4:55
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    Just that you have a right to a private ballot, and the best way to protect that right would be to not answer people asking you who you voted for. So at least in that sense, there is some protection. – Alexander O'Mara Dec 13 '16 at 4:57
  • @AlexanderO'Mara - I seriously doubt that a significant part of population is paranoid enough to do so – user4012 Dec 13 '16 at 5:00
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    Maybe, but if being "outed" is a real concern for someone, I can't see why they would ever answer such questions. – Alexander O'Mara Dec 13 '16 at 5:00
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Under Spanish (and AFAIK EU) laws, any records (computerized or on paper) containing identifiable personal information are subject to specific measures, based on the information they contain.

Records including information about personal beliefs and political opinions are among those protected most. They are only allowed to exist if there is a valid reason for it (e.g., a political party keeping track of its own affiliates), its mere existence (with the detail of the data that is collected) must be reported to the Data Protection Agency, and very restrictive measures must be taken to audit any access or modification of these record (all accesses must be properly identified, changes must show who did them).

Of course the principal protection is that those polling records linking a political opinion to a traceable physical1 person should not exist in the first place, since they are not needed by the polling agencies.

Penalties for violating data protection laws are very serious.

1To do their job, a polling agency may record the demographic data (age group, sex, professional level, etc) of the voter as long as it is not detailed enough to provide identification of the individual (e.g., registering the date of birth and a small geographic area risks that there is only one person that matches).

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