WAPOR Policy on Requests from Pollsters Regarding (a) Threats to the Two Freedoms to Conduct and Publish Public Opinion Polls and (b) Ethics Code Violations

Adopted by the WAPOR Council on February 22, 2024


There are two trends that will increase the number of requests WAPOR can expect to receive from opinion pollsters around the world over the next several years.

1. Growth in our membership, the number of countries with members, and the National Representative Network.

2. A rise in authoritarian regimes (including illiberal democracies) which pose a threat to political rights in general and opinion polling in particular.

3. Support from our members expressed through the annual survey and other communications for WAPOR to take an active role in enforcing our Code of Professional Ethics and Practices among individual and organizational members.

WAPOR’s Policy of Engagement

To prioritize our responses and to align these efforts, many of which can be very time-consuming, with our force of volunteer pollsters, WAPOR is setting criteria by which we will decide to engage or not, and if yes, how. The WAPOR Executive Council (ExCo) will use the following criteria to make these decisions.

1. Is there a direct threat to our two freedoms to conduct and publish public opinion polls, or a clear breach of the WAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practices?

2. Does the threat involve the personal safety and/or civil liberty of a member of WAPOR?

3. Is this threat to the two freedoms coming from a governmental body (national or otherwise), rather than a dispute between clients and practitioners or disagreements between practitioners and academics.

WAPOR has not engaged in many types of concerns, including but not limited to those listed below, believing they can be better addressed in the commercial marketplace or academic settings such as webinars and conferences.

1. Disputes between pollsters and clients over data quality and performance issues.

2. Conflicts between governments and pollsters over the funding and conducting of survey research projects

3. Disputes among survey practitioners and scholars over data quality.

4. Litigation between opinion pollsters, their clients and critics regarding the quality of the pollsters’ work.

A Procedure for Fielding Requests and Responding

1. When WAPOR receives a request, the person receiving it should forward it with any comments to the ExCo (President, Vice President and President-Elect, Secretary-Treasurer, Past President and the Executive Director).

2. The ExCo will decide whether the request meets the criteria for engagement.

3. If the criteria for engagement are met, ExCo shall decide how to handle the request, including but not limited to: (a) recommend the setting up of a Special Committee to handle the request, or (b) designate a representative (most likely to the Vice President or the Chair of the Standards Committee) to interact with the requester(s), or (c) issue a public statement to address the request. In all cases, advice and consent of the Council has to be sought, even in retrospect if the case is urgent.

4. This policy does not prevent WAPOR members, including office holders, from engaging in these issues on their own, without WAPOR endorsement. However, in the absence of WAPOR engagement, members may not cite WAPOR as a participant in any actions which they may initiate.

What WAPOR Can Do When We Engage?

1. Inform all parties involved in the issue of our engagement and elicit their ideas on the situation.

2. Message about the issue and our engagement (emails, press releases).

3. Engage directly and possibly in-person (with or through the National Representative) with the parties in country.

4. Work with other survey research organizations who may have an interest in this issue/country (e.g., ESOMAR, ESRA WAPOR’s Regional Chapters).

5. Bring our concerns to policy makers, the diplomatic services and the Parliaments of our own countries.