by Lynn Landes 1/5/05
Why have exit polls historically matched election results? How about
this? It's all made up. It's a scam. A con. A
fake. A fraud. Since they first started "projecting" election
night winners in 1964, the major news networks have never provided any
'hard' evidence that they actually conducted any exit polls, at
all. Researchers and activists who point to the disparity between the
early exit polls and the 2004 election results, have failed to consider
the obvious - that exit polls never existed to begin with.
That was the conclusion of the late-Collier brothers, authors of the book,
VoteScam: The Stealing of America. In 1970,
Channel 7 in Miami projected with 100% accuracy (a virtual impossibility)
the final vote totals on Election Day. When the Colliers asked the
networks where they got their exit poll data, both Channel 3 & Channel 7
claimed that the League of Women Voters sent it in from the precincts.
But, the League's local president tearfully denied it, saying, "I don't
want to get caught up in this thing." The broadcasters then told the
Colliers that a private contractor used the data from a single voting
machine to project the winners. But, the contractor said he got the data
from a University of Miami professor, who in turn denied it. In the end,
the news broadcasters appeared to have pulled the polling numbers out of
Not much has changed since then. According to their website, The National
Election Pool (NEP) was created by ABC, AP (Associated Press), CBS, CNN,
Fox, and NBC to provide tabulated vote counts and exit poll surveys for
the 2004 election. These six major news organization appointed Edison
Media Research and Mitofsky International as the sole provider of exit
polls for the most important political races of 2004. The AP collected
the vote tallies.
But actually, the networks and Mitofsky have been collaborating under
different organizational titles, such as Voter News Service, since 1964.
And the AP may be doing more than "collecting" vote tallies.
Nothing about the 2004 election makes sense. The numbers don't add up.
The surveys don't match up. But, the networks have clamed up. Despite
mounting questions and controversy, the networks continue to stonewall.
Citing proprietary claims (something the voting machine companies like
to do), the NEP won't release the raw exit poll data. Okay. Maybe they
have a point. However, they also won't release any logistical
information either, particularly where and when the exit polling was
conducted. And that's definitely not cricket.
John Zogby, President of Zogby International, a well-known polling
company, said that such complete non-transparency is a "violation of
polling ethics". Under the American Association for Public Opinion
Research code, Section III, Standard for Minimal Disclosure: "Good
professional practice imposes the obligation upon all public opinion
researchers to include, in any report of research results, or to make
available when that report is released, certain essential information
about how the research was conducted. At a minimum, the following items
should be disclosed, Part 8 - Method, location, and dates of data
When looking at the data that the networks do provide, things don't check
out. According to the NEP website, 5000 people were hired for
Election Day, 69,731 interviews were conducted at 1,480 voting precincts.
However, NEP's raw exit poll data has just been released on the Internet by
the alternative news magazine, Scoop,
. It seems legit.
It indicates that on November 2nd, the results of 16,085 exit poll
interviews were published by 3:59 pm, 21,250 interviews by 7:33 pm, and
26,309 by 1:24 pm on Nov 3 (which doesn't make sense, maybe they meant 1:24
am). Anyway, that grand total comes to 63,664 interviews. But, that
number may not be right, either. Edie Emery, spokesperson for the NEP,
wrote an email to this journalist stating, "On Election Day, 113,885 voters
filled out questionnaires as they left the polling places." Where did that
number come from, I asked? No answer from Edie. She said that the networks
would make more information available in their "archives" sometime in the
first quarter of this year. That's not very timely. Perhaps, that's the
At any rate, it appears that nearly a third of the results of the exit polls
were not available until after midnight! Whoa, Nellie! What happened to
the stampede to "project the winner" right after the polls closed, like the
networks used to do? What went wrong this time?
And that's not the only mystery. It looks like Mitofsky/Edison used
two very different forms for their exit poll surveys. One survey (NEP
) is about what you would expect a double-sided single
sheet of paper that the voter is supposed to fill out. However, the other
form (NEP 2
), which matches the
Scoop data, is several pages long; it is huge. It is impossible to
believe that anyone would take the time or trouble to answer all those
questions on Election Day.
And then there's the second half of NEP's role on Election Day 2004. The
NEP website states that vote totals were "collected" from 2,995 "quick count
precincts". I don't know what that means either, because the NEP
spokesperson refused to answer my questions. So, I'll theorize. Does that
mean that nearly 3,000 mainframe tabulating computers were accessed
directly by the AP? Although, the
AP admits it was the sole source of raw vote totals for the major news
broadcasters on Election Night, AP spokesmen Jack Stokes and John Jones
refused to explain to this journalist how the AP received that information.
They refused to confirm or deny that the AP received direct feed from
central vote tabulating computers across the country.
Thankfully, American Free
Press reporter, Christopher Bollyn was in the right place at the right time
on Election Night 2004. He spotted an AP employee connecting her laptop to
an ES&S computer at the Cook County (IL) election headquarters. But, was
she downloading or uploading data? In an interview with this reporter,
Bollyn said, "When I asked the AP "reporter" if she had "direct access" to
the mainframe computer that was tallying the votes, she said yes and then
Burnham (a Cook County official) stepped in and re-asked my question for
me. Again the answer was, "Yes."
I called Cook County this
week and spoke with Cass Cliatt, their spokesperson. She said that, after
the polls close, any reporter can use the county's "connector cables" that
allow them to download the latest vote totals. Cliatt said that this did
not constitute a connection to the mainframe computer. She did admit that
AP employees were there on Election Night and had cables dedicated to them
specifically. But, she again insisted that the AP cables were not
connected to the mainframe computer. Bollyn disagrees.
"Cook County had a complete press room set up in the back room where there
were about 8 computer terminals hooked up to the internet. So why was
this AP woman and her helper, a man, setting up their lap top in the front
room with wires that came across the counter only for them? And the real
question is why was Scott Burnham so dedicated to defending this AP
"reporter" and not allowing me to talk to her? He did not care if I
talked with the Fox News guy or the CLTV people. It was only the AP
"reporter" who was being protected. Scott Burnham is David Orr's (county
clerk) right hand man and PR person. What was the county clerk's
office trying to hide? I have never seen something like that and Burnham
was very firm about that - I was not allowed to talk to the AP reporter
directly. As you recall, I saw she had more important things to do - she
was in deep into the middle of a novel as the first numbers came in from
Cook County," wrote Bollyn in an email to this journalist.
I asked computer security specialist, Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, a fellow at the
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, for her
reaction. Was it a good idea to allow reporters to "hook up" to a cable in
order to access vote tabulation data? She didn't think so. "It's not as if
they are handing them a cd with the data on it. That would be the safest
thing to do and probably faster. Why would they allow them to connect up?"