CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Nation's Largest Exit Poll Service Had Problems
Aired November 6, 2002 - 05:57 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We're arguing here. Welcome back. It's 55 minutes past the hour. I don't think I've given a time check yet this morning, but it's 5:55 Eastern time.
Voters reported few problems using the latest technology at the polls. But the nation's largest exit poll service had a lot of problems. CNN and other television networks rely on the Voter News Service or VNS to help make projections. But a few hours before the polls closed, VNS warned that its results would be unreliable.
CNN's Brian Cabell reports.
BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the networks, primed for comprehensive election analysis, the announcement came as a shock.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some news for those of you who follow the mechanics of TV election coverage.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Voter News Service has said they will not be in a position to provide exit poll data on either state races or national voting trends.
PETER JENNINGS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: We're doing the election tonight, as we've said more than once, the old-fashioned way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Voter News Service, or VNS, a consortium of the news networks and the Associated Press, announced just hours before the polls closed that it would not be providing exit poll survey data that explains why voters cast their ballots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're now saying that the operation is having problems.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It had all new software that with all new projection models and ways of bringing the data in and that sort of thing. Over the course of the day, there were more and more things that looked worrisome to them.
CABELL: The exit polls, which are questions thousands of voters answer just after casting their ballots, help networks make projections shortly after the polls close. And equally important, they allow analysts to explain the vote. For instance, who are African-Americans voting for? Are Democrats crossing party lines and why? CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: CNN now projects that Jeb Bush has been reelected.
CABELL: Projections came in a little slower on this election night. Information about voting patterns was non-existent. VNS ran into severe criticism two years ago when it first projected Al Gore as the winner of the Florida vote in the presidential election, and then took back the call. The networks, using VNS data, then later called George Bush the winner. And as we all know, that led to 36 days of electoral chaos.
But overall in the last decade, VNS has proven mostly reliable. Only the Florida results and a 1996 New Hampshire Senate race were projected incorrectly.
Brian Cabell, CNN, Atlanta.
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