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News Outlets Disband Voter News Service

Representatives from ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News Channel, NBC and the Associated Press agreed Monday to disband VNS and to review other options for “how to provide the tabulation of the national vote count as well as state and national exit polls for the 2004 election.”

In November 2000, VNS supplied its clients and members with flawed data that led news outlets to make erroneous calls in the presidential race in Florida, a state which proved to be pivotal in the contest’s outcome.

Following those failures, VNS for the next two years launched a multimillion-dollar effort to improve its system and prepare it for the 2004 presidential cycle. The 2002 mid-term election cycle was slated as the revamped system’s trial run.

Just hours before the polls closed on Nov. 5, 2002, however, VNS notified its members and subscribers that it was unable to provide reliable exit poll information.

The news organizations formed VNS in 1993 as a way to share the $8 million-to-$12 million cost of compiling nationwide data on election nights.

The VNS operation compiled the unofficial voting results and exit poll information that the networks and the AP would then use to make projections and analyze demographic and regional voting patterns.

The board is expected to announce its final decision on a VNS replacement sometime later this week, The Washington Post reported.

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