CMOR Wins Victory for Polling in Florida - Articles



CMOR Wins Victory for Polling in Florida


In less than a month’s time, CMOR convinced Florida election officials to retract an advisory opinion which would have prohibited political issue polling in Florida.

The Issue
Florida law has a specific provision (Section 106.17 of the Florida Statutes) that allows for polling about candidates conducted by or paid for by political committees, with no mention of polling on “issues” (ballot initiatives and constitutional amendments).

The Florida Division of Elections’ first advisory opinion (DE 07-03), issued on August 20, ruled it unlawful for a political committee, either alone or jointly with other political committees, to conduct an issue-oriented poll, survey or measurement of voter sentiment. The opinion stated that, since the law did not specifically mention issue-oriented polls, there was no intent to cover issue-oriented polls. Opinion DE 07-03 concluded that issue-oriented polls are not allowed, with respect to any candidate, political committee, committee of continuous existence, electioneering communication organization or state/county executive committee of a political party. Clearly, this would be a devastating blow to the profession.

CMOR’s Response and the Result
After analyzing the opinion and the law, CMOR responded with phone calls (starting on Sept. 7, 2007) and written correspondence (on Sept. 10, 2007). Following these communications, the Florida Division of Elections recognized CMOR’s concerns and reversed their position. The Division of Elections ultimately decided that the intent of the legislators in designing the law was not to impede upon the First Amendment right of free speech. Therefore, a new advisory opinion (DE 07-05) was issued on Sept. 18, 2007, specifically stating that polling on issues, as well as candidates conducted by or paid for by political committees is legal.

This is a great victory for the survey and opinion research profession. CMOR corresponded with and continuously contacted Florida’s Division of Elections in order to educate them about the profession and the detrimental impact of their first interpretation. CMOR will continue such efforts to “Shield the Profession” from legislative and regulatory harm at the state and federal levels.

This information is not intended and should not be construed as or substituted for legal advice. It is provided for informational purposes only. It is advisable to consult with private counsel on the precise scope and interpretation of any laws/regulation/legislation and their impact on your particular business.

About the Author

Howard Fienberg

Howard Fienberg

Based in Washington, DC, Howard is the Insights Association's lobbyist for the marketing research and data analytics industry, focusing primarily on consumer privacy and data security, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), tort reform, and the funding and integrity of the decennial Census and the American Community Survey (ACS). Howard has more than two decades of public policy experience. Before the Insights Association, he worked in Congress as senior legislative staffer for then-Representatives Christopher Cox (CA-48) and Cliff Stearns (FL-06). He also served more than four years with a science policy think tank, working to improve the understanding of scientific and social research and methodology among journalists and policymakers. Howard is also co-director of The Census Project, a 900+ member coalition in support of a fair and accurate Census and ACS. He has also served previously on the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics and and the Association of Government Relations Professionals. Howard has an MA International Relations from the University of Essex in England and a BA Honors Political Studies from Trent University in Canada, and has obtained the Certified Association Executive (CAE), Professional Lobbying Certificate (PLC) and the Public Policy Certificate (PPC). When not running advocacy for the Insights Association, Howard enjoys hockey, NFL football, sci-fi and horror movies, playing with his dog, and spending time with family and friends.


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