Suspicion Surrounds Voter News Service
It doesn't add up. Why is Voter News Service (VNS) really going out of business? That's only one of many questions that dog VNS, a private consortium of the major news organizations that allegedly projected election night winners using exit polls. VNS is owned by ABC News, The Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News. But VNS has always conducted its operations in a highly secretive manner.
I want to know why VNS sent surveys to counties asking them for information about the kinds of voting machines the counties used? Why should VNS care? What do voting machines have to do with exit poll projections? The voting machine industry is completely dominated by Republicans. Many people believe that the major news networks are also dominated by Republican ownership. Is there a connection between VNS closing its doors, the increased use of computerized voting machines, and the growing disparity between pre-election polling predictions and election results - a disparity that appears to heavily favor Republican candidates? Are we witnessing election fraud on a massive scale and is VNS involved?
One reason VNS is shutting down could NOT be, as VNS spokespeople continue to claim, that they screwed up the 2000 election exit polling in Florida. Any comprehensive review of the Florida vote count proves that VNS's projection was correct...Gore would have won Florida handily had it not been for uncounted "over-votes", the notorious butterfly ballot, and the illegal removal of 91,000 names of mostly black and Democratic registered voters from the rolls by a Texas firm hired by Jeb Bush's Secretary of State.
The second reason VNS has offered for closing its doors is that they couldn't handle the technical and logistic demands of Election Day exit polling. What has changed from previous years? After all, the major news networks have claimed that they've been processing election data and using computers and thousands of temporary employees since the mid-1960's. For this last election VNS even hired the well known, if not controversial, Battelle Memorial Institute to revamp their system. The hiring of Battelle, a major military defense and government intelligence contractor, raised the eyebrows of many observers who believe that there may be a connection between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and VNS. Some suspect that the CIA doesn't limit its legendary vote rigging abilities to elections in foreign countries.
Here's a thought. Maybe VNS has never actually done exit polling before. Maybe this was the first time. Some people believe that VNS never really conducted exit polling in the first place, that VNS's claims were a logistic impossibility. Some people believe that VNS only put a few people at the polls for public relations purposes. Lee C. Shapiro, VNS's longtime spokesperson, told this reporter in an interview last fall that VNS was going to use 46,000 temporary employees for the November 2002 election. But news stories are reporting 30,000 instead. Since Shapiro has always refused to provide any information or evidence to prove the existence of this army of Election Day workers, we can only wonder at where the truth lies.
Some people believe that VNS instead used pre-election polling data to project winners on election night. The late Collier brothers, authors of Vote Scam: The Stealing of America (1996), believed that VNS (and its predecessors) may have been used to help rig elections by supplying bogus exit poll results to support equally bogus election results.
Let's look at Florida 2000 again. Why does VNS keep claiming that they screwed up in the Florida 2000 election when they didn't? Some people believe that VNS decided to stay on the sidelines in Florida and simply use the pre-election polling data to project the winner. As things got increasingly ugly after the election the Bush people may have given VNS a choice, "either you're with us or against us." The result... VNS keeps apologizing for projecting the correct winner.
And what's the real reason VNS is closing its doors?
Maybe election rigging through the use of computerized voting machines has become so pervasive that VNS simply couldn't keep up and instead decided to "stand down". Maybe network insiders and journalists demanded access to the highly secretive VNS operations and the scrutiny was going to more than what VNS could withstand. Or, maybe government authorities are investigating VNS.
Whatever the reason, it doesn't mean an end to the mystery and suspicion that surrounds Voter News Service.
Lynn Landes is a freelance journalist specializing in environmental issues. She writes a weekly column which is published on her website www.EcoTalk.org and reports environmental news for DUTV in Philadelphia, PA. Lynn's been a radio show host and a regular commentator for a BBC radio program.