Saturday, January 18, 2003

Voter News Service - good riddance
Major news organizations announced Monday they are disbanding Voter News Service, the consortium they had built to count votes and conduct surveys on Election Day. The decision follows two major election-night failures in a row by VNS.
Everyone knows what happened in Florida during the 2000 election when the mainstream press was based their data on exit polling done by VNS Essentially, VNS had pollsters outside of polling locations in certain areas of the country trying to get a random sampling of the electorate. Unfortunately, VNS wasn't always in the best places and what if people lied during the exit polls?
The main reason that VNS was created in the first place was to pool resources from the news organizations. But if you think about it, the amount of people hired to be at all those exit polls could easily be manning phones and calling town clerk offices around states attempting to get accurate and timely vote totals in essentially the same manner that machine politicians have the vote totals called into their campaign offices.
Ever wonder how a candidate knows they have won or lost at like 8:30 p.m. at night? That's how. By having tons of volunteers at polling locations, calling in the totals. There is no reason why news agencies can't do the same thing and become competitive news gathering organizations again.
In the end, a statistical sampling will probably still need to be used by news organizations for data on opinions and issues. But let's keep the actual vote tallies actual.

No comments: