INRep. F. Dale Grubb (D-42) and Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-40) introduced H.B. 1554, which would require certain disclosures during a “persuasion poll” call.

Reps. Grubb’s and Steuerwald's legislation defines a “persuasion poll” as “a telephone survey or series of telephone surveys that is similar in nature and that satisfies the following: (1) The survey or series of surveys includes or totals more than one hundred (100) calls”; “(2) The survey or series of surveys references, other than in a basic preference question, a candidate or group of candidates in any election or caucus”; “(3) The survey or series of surveys is designed to: (A) provide information that is negative or derogatory about a candidate or group of candidates in any election or caucus; or (B) influence the person called to vote for or against a candidate or group of candidates in any election or caucus; rather than to measure the public's opinion about the candidates or issues in any election or caucus.” Furthermore, one of the following conditions would have to apply before a telephone survey or surveys would be considered a “persuasion poll”: “(A) A list or directory is used, exclusively or in part, to select persons called belonging to a particular subset or combination of subsets of the population based on demographic or political characteristics such as race, sex, age, ethnicity, party affiliation, or similar characteristics”; “(B) The poll takes less than three (3) minutes to complete, excluding time spent in identifying the person sponsoring and authorizing the poll”; “(C) The poll does not ask questions about the political or demographic characteristics of the persons called”; “(D) The person who authorizes, sponsors, conducts, or administers the poll does not collect or tabulate the results of the poll”; “(E) The poll is commenced not more than ten (10) days before an election.” H.B. 1554 defines a “basic preference question” as “a question that provides a person called with a list of candidates' names and asks which candidate the person called supports in a particular election or caucus.”

H.B. 1554 prohibits anyone from sponsoring, authorizing, conducting, or administering “a persuasion poll unless, at the beginning and end of the call, the caller provides the following information: (1) The name of the caller”; “(2) The identity of the person sponsoring and authorizing the call”; and “(3) The telephone number and address of the person sponsoring the call”. The bill also requires that if a candidate's committee neither sponsors nor authorizes a call, the caller must state that the call is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. H.B. 1554 also would dictate that a “persuasion poll call may not be made on the day of an election or within five (5) days immediately preceding an election.” Violations of this legislation would incur stiff civil penalties.

While MRA broadly supports H.B. 1554, we will seek to work with Reps. Grubb and Steuerwald to replace the term “persuasion poll” with a more apt term and a clearer definition of bona fide survey research.

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