Exit polls are a post-voting exercise conducted by independent agencies to predetermine the winner of an election. It is a poll of voters done immediately after they exit the polling station. 

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A similar poll conducted before the voting is known as entrance or opinion polls. These polls are conducted by private companies in collaboration with a newspaper or a broadcaster.

Assembly elections were conducted in five states - West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry - in staggered stages from March 27 to April 28, results for which will be declared on May 2. 

Who conducts exit polls?

Exit polls are conducted by private firms in collaboration with media organisations. In India, there are several exit pollsters like Today's Chanakya, ABP-Cvoter, India Today-Axis, Times Now-CNX, NewsX-Neta, Republic-Jan Ki Baat, Republic-CVoter, ABP-CSDS. 

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How are exit polls conducted?

There are a number of methods pollsters adopt to conduct exit polls, the most common of them being sampling. Sampling can be random or systematic. 

Random sampling includes surveying the entire electorate, not just the ones who cast their votes, covering different parameters such as age, gender, caste, religion, etc. 

Specific sampling narrows down these parameters for more precise results.

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When are exit polls released?

The exit polls are allowed to be released 30 minutes after the end of the final phase of the voting, with approval from the Election Commission of India. 

What kind of restrictions are there on exit polls?

The Election Commission of India (ECI) prohibits the release of exit poll results before the conclusion of voting in order to safeguard democracy. It does so under the powers vested to it by Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.