VNS becomes more evasive
By Victoria Collier
By Victoria Collier
Editors NoteLast spring, Victoria Collier, daughter of Jim Collier, one of the authors of Votescamthe Stealing of Americainterviewed Bill Headline, CEO of Voter News Service, a network-owned consortium that counts the presidential vote on election night. She asked about joining VNS pollsters.
HEADLINE: No its not, because I . . . thats, uh. . . thats what Id been told by people who work for me, uh . . . uh. . . whom I trust.
COLLIER: . . . All right. Well. . . this has been a long conversation. Im going to . . . Im going to do that. Im going to drop you a line.
COLLIER: Like you said.
COLLIER: And maybe youll allow me to be one of your polling people in this next election. I would also like to know if you would do me that favor and ask the members if they would be willing to have an independent media group follow the vote. Thats all. Just follow the vote. From start to finish. Its not that youre being accused of anything in particular, its simply that youre part of the process. And the process actually does belong to the people.
HEADLINE: Were part of the reporting process.
COLLIER: Well, thats how people find out about the vote, through reporting. So you know, they want to be able to watch it. And people really are interested in what goes on at VNS! But if you say that its not something that you need to tell or show people and that its private, well. . . itll have to rest at that. But maybe youd be willing to ask the members
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HEADLINE: Okay. Im willing to ask. Just drop me a line.
COLLIER: All right. I will. I appreciate your time.
On Monday, June 12, Victoria Collier again telephoned Bill Headline.
HEADLINE: Bill Headline.
COLLIER: Hi, Mr. Headline. This is Victoria Collier.
HEADLINE: How are you?
COLLIER: Fine, thanks, I was wondering if you ever did speak to the members if it would be possible to have some independent media present at VNS on election night.
HEADLINE: No, I was kind of waiting for you to send me a note which I thought you were going to do.
COLLIER: Oh, I thought I only had to send you a note about the polling.
HEADLINE: Well, uh, I was going to use that as a reminder of. . uh. . raising questions about having an independent presence, and uh, and uh, so I have not talked to the board, but I will.
COLLIER: OK, would it be helpful if I faxed something over to you?
COLLIER: Whats your number?
COLLIER: OK, well, I had one other question. Where will your National Input center be in November?
HEADLINE: Uh. . .why?
COLLIER: (laughs) Why? I just want to know where its going to be.
HEADLINE: What difference does it make?
COLLIER: What difference does it make if you tell me? Im not going to show up and
HEADLINE: Well, the only reason that I am at all hesitant is that uh. . uh. . is that we have had occasional threats over the years that people will try to, uh, disrupt what we do and uh, and therefore, Im not at all anxious to share the location.
COLLIER: Really? Who has threatened you?
HEADLINE: Uh. .uh. . .Im not sure that I even . .this was long before I was on the scene, so Im not sure that I know the names and the organizations, but there are some kooks out there who occasionally think theres something goofy about what we do. . .or something wrong or improper and so uh
COLLIER: Well, again, you know thats why it comes back to maybe opening up the process in an official way.
HEADLINE: Theres nothing official. . .I have rehashed the conversation that you and I had several times, and uh, you know this is a. . .this is a private operation and we have a, uh, uh
COLLIER: Do you think personally, just on a personal level, on a human level, you can understand how people might feel about
HEADLINE: Well, I suppose conspiracy theorists might see something sinister about what we do. Ive been in the business so long that I understand that uh, the networks and the Associated Press are not going to set up something which has the possibility of uh. . uh. . . of being proven wrong, improper, criminal, whatever. Theres far too much at stake in terms of their reputations as news organizations, so
COLLIER: Im not talking about conspiracy theories. I just mean the fact that you do have a certain amount of control over the voting information and
HEADLINE: We have no control over the voting information. We collect…we collect results, and uh, we publish them, and the public record is the check and balance
COLLIER: But nobodys looking.
HEADLINE: and we have no control over the public record.
COLLIER: But see, you have psychological control over the entire process.
HEADLINE: (laughs) Psychological control?
HEADLINE: If were wrong, were wrong, and if were right, were right.
COLLIER: Well, thats actually another question I had. You said that if the networks thought you were wrong on your numbers, they could use their own numbers. Why would they think that you were wrong?
HEADLINE: They have people who are highly schooled and uh, in statistics and in uh…uh…and in voting behavior and
COLLIER: Oh, you mean just in the polling numbers, not on the actual vote numbers coming in?
HEADLINE: On the polling numbers, yeah. The voting numbers coming in, uh…nobody challenges us..because they know what the source is…and..
COLLIER: Right, thats my point. Nobody challenges it and nobody in the public would ever challenge it, either because they trust you…
HEADLINE: If..If were wrong..uh, uh..we had a reporting discrepancy. It had to do with the times at which we reported votes opposed to the time when the Texas Secretary of State reported votes on the senatorial primary this year, and bingo, it was instantly challenged, and uh, uh, we did a thorough analysis and went back and reconciled our records with the Texas Secretary of State, and uh, everybody understands that it was a perfectly plausible error. But the fact is that..uh, we…only because of the time we recorded things, gave a report that ended up not tallying with the final official results. We were challenged instantly and…and…
COLLIER: I dont understand…the time at which you reported things?
HEADLINE: At the time we had results in, it gave one candidate a slight advantage over another candidate. It had nothing to do with the official result because this is a question between second and third place in the primary, and..uh…the vote count, the leader challenged…lets…example…and these are not the exact times. Lets say that at 1:45 in the morning, uh..we published our report, that is, we put out what we thought the results were…and at 2 in the morning the Texas Secretary of State put out their results, and the second and third place order was different. Well, the fact of the matter was that we were right at 1:45, but they were right at 2 a.m., and the numbers held. But, but the point is uh, that there was instant scrutiny, which there would be anywhere.
COLLIER: No, thats absolutely not the case. Most people arent paying any attention at all.
HEADLINE: Well, the people that are paying attention are the officials to whom…and thats the official check.
COLLIER: Right. Well, I think people are feeling now that maybe there needs to be an official citizen check instead…
HEADLINE: Voters. Weve had one call from you in the last…I mean, well, weve had two, three or five calls from you . . those are the only calls weve had.
COLLIER: Well, I speak to many people…
HEADLINE: . . questioning our procedures, our results, our right to do what we do…the fact that we exist. I mean, I cannot take one call from one person, or five calls from one person, as an indicator that there is even the slightest suspicion that theres something wrong with what we do. I mean, there are another 200 million people out there…all of whom could be calling us.
COLLIER: Most people dont even know you exist. Anyway, dont you think its a good thing for Americans to be vigilant about their vote count?
HEADLINE: Theyre very vigilant about their vote count.
COLLIER: No, I dont believe that they are. I do speak to many people personally who are interested in what you do. They might not be calling you..they dont feel that they can get any response from you…but you have been responding to me, and thats good. But they dont feel that you would. Most people are not pro-active enough to actually call up a private corporation and try to get any information from them. But the thing is, Im not trying to attack you personally…
HEADLINE: It feels like that.
COLLIER: No, no…I dont know why it isnt a positive thing for an American voter to say, Hey, what are you doing?
HEADLINE: Because Ive given you an answer, and you wont accept it–
COLLIER: Well, it just leads to more questions.
HEADLINE: And Im trying to give you the truth, and you wont accept the truth, so I dont know what to do with you.
COLLIER: Well, I accept it, theres nothing that I can change, I just dont agree with some of your premises. I believe that…I mean personally, Ill admit it to you…I dont trust the major media simply because I know the amount of information thats censored by the press on a daily basis because I work with the alternative press.
HEADLINE: That changes the nature of this entire conversation, and I dont want to talk to you anymore. Send me your fax. (hangs up)
VNS in New York City can be reached at 212-947-7280. Please let Mr. Headline know that you, too, as an American citizen, are very interested in keeping a vigilant watch over the vote count.