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Voter News Service

From Academic Kids

The Voter News Service was an consortium whose mission was to provide results for United States Presidential elections, so that individual organizations and networks would not have to do exit polling and vote tallying in parallel.

The VNS included major United States television networks and newspapers:

A possibly unwritten secondary mission of the Voter News Service was to provide election results as quickly as possible on election night—a point which came to haunt the VNS in the 2000 Presidential election.

The VNS received intense criticism for its 'flip-flop' calling of the state of Florida in that election. During the course of the evening, it first called the closely contested state of Florida for Al Gore, then George W. Bush, and then as 'too close to call'. Critics argued that the state should never have been called until the state's fate was clear. The Voter News Service also received specific criticism for calling the state of Florida for Al Gore before the polls closed in the Florida panhandle, which was located in the Central time zone and heavily Republican. Compounding the criticism, John Prescott Ellis, a full cousin of George W. Bush, was a consultant who analysed data from the Voter News Service, and is alleged to have had contact with both Jeb and George Bush several times by telephone the evening of the 2000 Presidential election.

In 2002, the VNS intended to make calls in the November U.S. Congressional and Senate elections. It attempted to use a computer designed for VNS by an outside contractor to do this. A system failure occurred in this computer on election night, making quick delivery of data impossible. In fact, collecting and delivering the data took ten months.

In January 2003, the Voter News Service was disbanded largely because of failures in 2000 and 2002. Murray Edelman, VNS editorial director, criticized the decision as making the VNS a scapegoat. [1] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A51692-2003Jan13?language+printer)

In the 2004 presidential election, a new organization called National Election Pool was set up by the same organizations, utilizing consultants Edison/Mitofsky for exit polling and Associated Press for official returns. However, the NEP had controversies of its own for 2004 when it released exit polling data early that was significantly different than the final results [2] (http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=694&u=/ap/20041103/ap_on_el_pr/eln_tv_exit_polls_1&printer=1).

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