Network exit polls exposed
By Victoria Collier
By Victoria Collier
Editors NoteThis is part four of an interview conducted last May by Victoria Collier, writing for The Asheville Global Report. She spoke with the director of Voter News Service, the network-owned group that counts the presidential vote. Collier asked about methods and exit polling.
Collier: Okay, so AP has its own setup, and I know that they have, I believe, for a while, but yet theyre also part of VNS.
Headline: Thats true. They have different needs than the rest of the members. The Associated Press has to report on every single election, down to Dog Catcher, for its readership in. . .in small towns across the country. The television networks report at the statewide level.
Collier: And youre just reporting the top of the ticket?
Collier: Okay, but aside from AP, the networks are getting the numbers from you?
Headline: With. . . . with the caveat that more and more Websites are out there and uh. . . the members are interested in getting as much information as they can, so theyre looking at Websites as well as our numbers, as well as AP numbers.
Collier: Im just trying to understand how it works, thats all so theyre calling in vote totals from the county, but then theyre also giving you exit poll results?
Headline: We conduct the exit polls and. . . uh. . . . our exit poll people report their results to us several times during the course of an election day. Uh. . . we evaluate that information and provide our recommendations, or our interpretations, if you will, our predictions, if you want to use that word, for the members. The members are also conducting their own polls, and using their own sources, and checking our information against what they have, and may or may not call a particular election based on our information or based on a combination of our information and theirs, or, if they think were wrong, they go with their information.
Collier: Wow, this is strangely . . . complex, and really . . . casual. And yetsuch accuracy! Your numbers have often been nearly 100 percent perfect. Okay, then this is my final question
Headline: I dont mean to be, difficult, or any of this, Im uh. . . uh . . . . Im . . . Im really flabbergasted at the uh. . . at the nature of the allegations that have floated around there, and whatever it was that uh, Votescam, uh. . . undertook to prove, because its so far off base that its, just. . . its just hard for me to fathom.
Collier: Well, maybe you should read the book, and then it probably wouldnt be so shocking. Its really not shocking. You understand that not everybody trusts the major media. That shouldnt shock you. If it does
Headline: I understand that, but Ive worked in major media for 35 years, and so I have a. . . I have a strong faith in what it is we do and why.
Collier: Well, thats good. But if anything, take the opportunity to dispel some of the fears that people
Headline: Well, thats why Im talking to you.
Collier: Right, so my question is, if there is nothing to worry about, is it not possible for somebody to watch the VNS process on election night? To follow the vote from wherever, if its in New York, if its in New Jersey
Headline: If its in New York City, then we get it from the police department. Because theyre the official vote counters in New York.
Collier: Okay, so. . . see, it can be confusing, because youre getting your results from so many different places, through so many different people
Headline: Its not confusing.
Collier: For an outsider, I mean.
Headline: It shouldnt be confusing. We get the vote totals from whatever the official, kind of the easiest official source
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there is to get them from, which is generally at the county level.
Collier: Right, theres not just one, across-the-board standard procedure.
Headline: Well, thats because we live in a democracy, and there are 50 states and there are several thousand counties, and every one of them has its own way of doing things.
Collier: Yes, but it seems that its particularly complex with the vote. I mean we all do things nationally; for example, we all pay our taxes, and we pretty much have to do it in the same way on the same day, so you know, we manage to organize when we have to on a national level. If we really wanted to, we could organize the election process, and we should. All Im asking iscould I, or could somebody else from an independent newspaper, or even a citizen organization, follow the vote through its processes, and then, wherever VNS is located, follow it up into wherever it gets tabulated and your people are doing their thing on election night, and could we videotape the process? And it really doesnt have to do with any ridiculous allegations, it just seems that every part of the vote counting process should be open to the public. Thats all.
Headline: Im, Im uh. . . First of all, I cant make the commitment, because thats something that would have to be approved by the members. And I have no way of knowing what the members . . uh. . . would be willing to go along with.
Collier: Well, whats the problem? What would be the problem?
Headline: There, there is no problem. This is a. . . were private organizations, and you know, uh. . . uh. . . Mobil Oil doesnt invite people in to see how they send out credit card bills.
Collier: But of course, this is different. This is the national vote count.
Headline: It isnt different.
Collier: It is different.
Headline: Its not. The official vote count is conducted at the. . uh, at the city, state, uh. . . county and state level, and nationally. Well, actually, not nationally, its all done at the state level, and, uh. . . and thats the official vote. Were a bunch of reporters who have developed methods of speeding up the process to report more quickly. And thats. . . thats really what were . . . what were about. And we. . . uh, regardless of what we report, the official results are the official results. And if were wrong, were wrong. Weve been wrong, uh, occasionally, not very often. And so
Collier: Youve been
Headline: And so theres little . . . theres little appetite to, to open up a process thats. . . thats basically aaa private process.
Collier: Its a private process? Well, Im telling you, this secrecy. . . this leads to the incredible allegations that you dont understand.
Headline: Well, ifif, for some reason, there was a reason for those allegations, ififif it was. . . if there was any sense that we deliberately miscalled elections, uh. . .
Collier: Well, there is a sense.
Headline: Uh. . . or tried in any way to influence the actual outcome, then Id, then Id have some sympathy for this concern of yours.
Collier: So youre basically saying that. . . that well just have to trust you, but youre not going to show us anything that you do?
Headline: Theres . . . you know, what, what
Collier: Listen, vote fraud is not some insane concept. I mean, its pretty common.
Headline: I absolutely agree with you, but what Im telling you
Collier: So its understandable to want to watch every single part of the process.
Headline: But what Im saying is
Collier: Why is that so difficult?
Headline: What Im saying is that we are not the official vote count! If theres vote fraud, then you go to the state or the county or the city where it exists. All we do is report results.
Collier: Okay, so then take the Ohio situation, one of the rare instances where anyone was paying attention to the vote count. If they got the wrong numbers from VNS, and they havent been able to get the right results from the county, then yes, its definitely a problem with the county, but its also a problem with VNS.
Headline: What Ohio problem?
Collier: The Buchanan supporters who
Headline: Oh, you mean the Iowa problem.
Collier: Oh, yes. Im sorry, the Iowa problem.
Headline: Or whatever that was. . . A non problem. . .
Collier: (pause) . . .Its a non-problem?
Headline: Yeah. And I. . . I need to do some research before I address that at any particular length.
Collier: Why do you call it a non-problem?
Headline: Because it was. . . allegations that were made in the political interest of the Buchanan folks. And they had nothing to do with reality.
Collier: Nothing to do with reality?
Collier: Why? . . . I mean, Im sorry, but thats a strong statement. I just want to know what makes you say it.
Headline: Because. . . there was no basis for the accusations that were made. No basis in fact.
Collier: But I thought that you didnt. . . that you had never heard of those allegations before.
Headline: No, I didnt say that.
Collier: Okay. You just seemed to be unfamiliar with it, so why
Headline: Im vaguely familiar with it.
Collier: Well, then, how can you say it has no basis in fact if youre only vaguely familiar with it? Thats a strange thing to say.
(To be continued)