TAIPEI (Taiwan News) --According to the principle of “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” questioning the fairness of opinion polls is a necessary process for a responsible search for accuracy and truth
“Garbage In, Garbage Out” or “GIGO” is a term frequently used in computer science and information technology, meaning that when you input erroneous or meaningless information, the computer will also produce erroneous or meaningless data. The same principle is also valid for other domains unrelated to computer usage.
The topic of opinion polls has recently been controversial, due to the issue of sampling as, apart from landlines, the polls will also include cellphones. According to the GIGO principle, “the fairness of opinion polls needs to be doubted” is a necessary responsible process to search for accuracy and truth.
The conducting of election polls can be divided into the following steps, and each step has to be written out beforehand, with a “poll plan” before they are conducted and a “result report” after the polls:
1. What are the motivation and aim of the opinion polls?
2. Confirmation of the poll method design and of the verification method; only if there is a clear verification method for the polling procedure (such as the casting and counting of ballots), can there be opinion poll fairness.
3. Conduct the poll according to the polling method.
4. Verify the poll results according to the verification method.
5. Make the poll results public.
With the current race for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 2020 presidential nomination between Tsai Ing-wen and William Lai heating up, many DPP veterans and supporters are worried that the fairness of the opinion polls could mean life or death for the party. If there are no fair polls, then there will be no way of making the people of Taiwan believe the DPP is still upkeeping democratic values, and they will not cast their vote for a candidate supporting the DPP in the presidential election. Because if there is no opinion poll fairness, then it will be impossible to precisely choose a candidate who can win the presidential election.
Polling a sample is not a complete election poll, but it is only polling a section of all voters in order to estimate and analyze how the public at large might vote.
On March 20, 2019, DPP spokesperson Chou Chang-chieh posted a text on the DPP website saying that “DPP polls have always been fair and objective, they certainly not correspond to mistaken allegations by certain media.” The text clearly stated that “for presidential elections, the candidate would be chosen completely by opinion polls according to the party’s clauses for the nomination of elected officials, with several polling organizations conducting several polls, opened up to the presence of the candidates or their representatives.”
The details include the following:
1. The party leadership establishes a “primary poll committee” formed by the secretary-general and four objective professional experts which supervises the process of the primary polls and handles relevant disputes.
2. The DPP primary poll samples will rely on landline home phone data from Chunghwa Telecom collected before April 2018 and will use SAS software to set up a polling software program. The polls will be conducted according to the telephone directories per administrative district.
3. Before the polling starts, the sample data and all relevant data will be reviewed by the candidates’ representatives and by the primary poll committee. The method will safeguard that no new landline phone numbers will be set up in a fraudulent attempt at influencing the poll results, and that no changes are made to the sample.
4. On the day of polling, the samples to be used for polling will be recorded on a disk, signed by a supervisor, and sealed. When the survey companies break open the seals and put the samples into their system, there will be a representative of the candidates present.
5. All relevant samples will be saved on separate disks which can be checked later in the case of disputes.
6. Recently applied-for new numbers cannot be included in these polls, preventing unnecessary interference.
Looking at the above statement by DPP spokesperson Chou Chang-chieh from March 20, 2019, since the party is adding the cellphone polling method which was never mentioned before, it should explain that new method clause by clause according to the above statement in order to let the public know why it’s necessary.
All doubts about “opinion poll fairness” serve for the good of the DPP’s future development. If the DPP must be subject to sustainable development, if it wants to continue its democratic and progressive soul, then “opinion polls fairness” is an absolute precondition, and the party must be happy to be subjected to the most stringent public inspection. This is the most important moment in the history of Taiwan.