NY – Assembly Member George S. Latimer (D-91) introduced A.B. 4356 and Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-35) introduced S.B. 2427, companion bills which would empower the state board of elections to restrict and regulate “push polls”, as well as legitimate political research.

Requirements: The bills would require that any “candidate, political party or committee” attempting 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” must, “within forty-eight hours after such disclosure, …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 expenditures 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 characteristics 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.”

Restrictions: A.B. 4356 and S.B. 2427 would also make it “unlawful for any candidate, 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 of opinion, of potential voters respecting one or more of such voter's preferences among candidates or for whom such voter will vote, or soliciting such voter's opinion on a campaign issue, preceded by one or more misrepresentations… in connection with a subsequent primary, general, special or school board election to be held within this state unless at the beginning… the person in direct contact with the potential voter identifies… 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… 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.”

Penalties: Knowing violation of these provisions would constitute a class A misdemeanor.

Conclusion: While MRA broadly supports the anti-“push poll” provisions of these bills, we will seek to work with the sponsors to include some of the research profession’s preferred specific criteria. Of greater concern, A.B. 4356 and S.B. 2427 would jeopardize the sanctity of internal polling data for political candidates and organizations. So MRA will seek to amend or defeat these bills.