Victoria Collier Interviews Head
Voter News Service
Update: August, 2010 --
This interview was wholly unexpected, and I admit to feeling
ill-prepared. I was 24 years old, working for a small independent
activist newspaper, The Asheville Global Report (AGR). I called Voter
News Service (VNS) looking for a brochure. Never would I have
expected the CEO of a major media consortium to get on the phone and
confront me directly. Pretty incredible, when you think about it.
I happened to have a
tape recorder connected to my phone, something I didn't admit in the
AGR, since I did not disclose the fact to Bill Headline.
VNS has morphed again
WHO COUNTS THE
Despite the widespread belief
that the government in some capacity counts the national vote on
election night, the reality is entirely different. The final vote for
Congress and the Presidency is tallied and reported by a little-known
private corporation named Voter News Services (VNS) located in New
York City. VNS is a media consortium comprised of all the major
networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, including Fox and CNN, and also the wire
services, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.
All of the precinct vote
results aggregated and tabulated in each county, mainly by privately
owned and serviced computers, are transferred to VNS where they are
again aggregated and tabulated, and finally the totals are
disseminated to the individual media networks, and then to the
public, who accepts them without question.
The votes are processed at each
step by secretly programmed software. Only the corporations who
program the software know if fraud has been committed within their
"black box" programming. There is no oversight. The
software is not open to public scrutiny. Neither is VNS.
VNS has existed in secrecy for
over thirty years, and may be the most powerful corporation in the
world. Created in 1964 as News Election Services (NES), it
changed its name in to Voter News Service (VNS) in 1993. It
retains the same small staff. The few Americans who know of
their existence incorrectly believe they're solely a polling
organization. The fact is that they have, without public knowledge,
co-opted the vote count in America, despite their claims that the
results they disseminate are "unofficial."
VNS results are accepted across
the board on election night by American voters and election
officials. There is no check on the veracity of their reported totals
-- and indeed, with all our votes counted in the electronic dark,
there can be no check. VNS is very well aware of this uncontested
power. They know that few Americans have the time or inclination to
question or challenge the vote count. They also know that when they
are challenged, they have little to fear in the way of exposure, as
they ARE the media. Understandably, they have responded to
accusations of vote fraud with the arrogance befitting the power of a
private and unaccountable media corporation.
As reported by investigative
journalists James and Kenneth Collier in the book "Votescam:
The Stealing of America," evidence does exist proving
conspiracy to rig the 1970 Dade County election, involving the local
media. Parties include the League of Women Voters, top elections
officials, and the Miami television networks, who knowingly reported
false results to the public based on the claim that the courtouse
vote counting computer had broken down -- which it had not. Official
election results were falsified to match the network totals, and the
signatures of thousands of elections canvassers were forged..
This FBI documented evidence
was suppressed by top officials including Janet Reno, then Assistant
State Attorney in Florida.
If local networks in 1970 had
the capacity to report false results to the public with the collusion
of criminals within the elections Establishment and the Justice
Department, what does it mean that a major media consortium operating
in total secrecy has control over the tallying and reporting of
national election results?
No one -- not even the
infamously pushy Geraldo Rivera -- has ever been allowed into
the headquarters of VNS or NES. I should know. I tried to infiltrated
them when I was 16 years old, and their headquarters were located in
the World Trade Center. Claiming I was terribly sick and my "aunt"
who worked for VNS had my medication (plausible? no?). The VNS guards
refused to let me -- small girl in shorts and a t-shirt -- go
upstairs, even with a security guard. They offered to use one of WTC
ambulances to take me to the hospital.
Yup, hard to get past that
locked door where our nation's votes are under the control of the
corporate media . . .
- Victoria Collier
On May 18th, E. Baylis, a
reporter for the Asheville Global Report called VNS requesting what
public information they may have about their organization. Ms. Baylis
spoke with Lee C. Shapiro, press secretary for VNS. The simple
conversation was quickly aborted when Baylis asked if a citizen
watchdog group existed to oversee the function of VNS on election
night. Shapiro replied that she was "not going to get into this
with you," and insisted she had a meeting to attend.
On May 20th, another Global
Report writer, Victoria Collier, called VNS. She was told that Ms.
Shapiro was in a meeting. Collier asked only one question: if there
was any literature about VNS that could be sent through the mail,
such as a brochure. The secretary had no answer, then put her on hold
for nearly five minutes. The next person to appear on the other end
of the line was the head of VNS himself, Bill Headline. He wanted to
know why she was calling. The following is the transcript of the
Note- The stuttering and
stammering on the part of Bill Headline has been largely edited for
the sake of the reader. What remains is necessary to give you a
feeling for his extreme nervousness.
Interview with Bill
Headline--VNS Executive Director, New York City May 20, 2000
Collier- Yes, I was calling to
ask if you had any information you could send to me. Any literature
about your organization.
Headline- Ah, well. . . um. . .
. . (laughs) . . I hesitate only because we don't really have
anything in the way of literature. Uh. . . we have a fax sheet that
we're in the process of putting together but it's not ready for
distribution. Um. . .
Collier- Oh. And you don't have
Headline- Well, no, we don't
have a Website.
Collier- But, people poll for
you? I mean, you do poll?
Headline- We. . uh, we do exit
Collier- Do you have volunteers
who do that?
Headline- No, we hire people
around the country to do that.
Collier- So, if somebody wanted
to work for you, how would they get information on how to do it?
Headline- Well they would, uh.
. . they would drop us a note and say that they were interested in. .
uh. . in doing that. And I'd be happy to uh. . . to receive such a
note. And uh. . . we have a . . uh. . . a group of people who recruit
for exit polling on election night.
Collier- Well, it is strange
that you don't have any written information that you could send out.
Headline- Why is it strange?
Collier- Well just because your
organization has been around for such a long time, and it seems that
in all this time there would be something written up. For the public?
Headline- We uh. . . we do a
little, a little . . . as I say, we have a fax that's in uh, that's
in development. And uh, we have a . . . a brochure that gets sent out
to people who have been hired to work for us.
Collier- Oh, you do have a
Headline- A. . . well, brochure
is kind of stretching it, it's a. . . it's one page.
Collier- It's one page?
Headline- But I, uh. . I mean.
. .(laughs) I am aware that this is not the first contact between uh.
. . uh. . . your organization and ours. So, I mean. . . . What is it
that you want to know?
Collier- I would like to know
exactly what it is that you do on election night. That's--
Headline- And why do you want
to know this?
Collier- Because I'm . . . I'm
Headline- But that's not why
you're calling us.
Collier- Well, actually that is
why. That's it. Of course, I'm sure you're aware of certain charges,
of. . . secrecy, I guess, that have been brought against what was
NES, and I think you're the same group-- you're VNS now-- and I'm
really just checking it out for myself, to see if I can get
information. Because I really wasn't aware of the importance of your
group in vote counting on election night. I just want to get
information on what it is you do. And the question that was asked to
Lee C. Shapiro last week that I think caused the problem was: Is
there a citizen organization that oversees VNS on election night to
make sure that all of the votes are being tallied correctly? But
there wasn't an answer to that.
Headline- Well there are a
couple of answers to that. First of all, uh. . .our sources. . .
Well, we do three things. We do exit polling, and we. . .uh. . .we
make statistical models of each state, and we collect the vote from
those models . . from those model precincts. And we, uh. . . we
collect the entire vote from across the country, primarily at the
county level. So, you know. . . is there a citizen group? No, there's
not a citizen group. Is there a . . . a double check? Yes, the
official results don't come from us, they come from. . . from, uh,
states. States and. . . and counties.
Headline- Uh. . .we're. . .uh.
. . we're. . in the long run it's those results that are the official
results, and . . . uh. . .uh. . . if you look at the history of the
organization, the history of what. . . what we do, um. . . uh,
(laughs). . . the official results are the final answer. And we have.
. . Well, I can't give you any statistical information because I
don't think there's ever been any need to do it, but . . . we've. . .
we've never been out of sync with the official results.
Collier- No, you haven't,
actually your vote projections in particular are remarkably in sync
with the official results, which I think has been questioned in the
past. That might be something a lot of people might be interested in,
which is --
Headline- If- if- if you see a
conspiracy there, uh. . .
Collier- No, that's not what I
said. I think --
Headline- That's been the
accusation, I think, or one of the accusations . .
Collier- No, that isn't what I
said. Actually the question is simply, how exactly do you. . . what's
the formula for the vote total projections? You're projecting the
vote totals almost perfectly, before the polls even close. You use
exit polling for this? You're saying that you use certain precincts
that you get your exit polling from and they would be, I guess, key
Headline- Well key precincts
isn't, uh. . . isn't the, uh. . . isn't uh, the terminology that we
use because it's. . . that's confusing, although it has been used in
the past. They are simply sample precincts. They are part of the
statistical sample, of the country.
Collier- Do you use the same
precincts in each election?
Collier- No? So . . .
Headline- We- we- we, we sample
them. This is something that the statisticians understand better than
Collier- Really? What's your
Headline- I run the place.
Collier- You're the president?
Headline- No, I'm executive
Collier- Executive director.
Okay, I don't want to quote you incorrectly. Spell your name?
Headline- Bill Headline.
Collier- Okay. . . Is Robert
Flaherty still the president?
Collier- Not anymore?
Headline- He never was. He
might've been at NES. I don't know what those titles were. He is a
former executive director.
Collier- Oh, so you're top of
the line then.
Headline- (laughs) I like to
Collier- How long have you been
working with VNS?
Headline- I've been this shop a
little over two years.
(Explains the name changed from
NES to VNS in 1993)
Collier- So you only do exit
polls, you don't do entrance polls?
Headline- Well entrance polls,
uh . . . uh. . . they've been used occasionally when it's difficult
for whatever reasons to exit poll. But the preference is to do exit
Collier- Okay. So then in the
upcoming election, would it be possible to. . . well, would it be
possible for me, for example, to take part in the exit polling?
Headline- (long pause) Um. . .
. if. . . if there was a . . .a . . .a sample precinct in uh. . . in
your area, and it made sense to hire you to . . . to do that , it's .
. it's theoretically possible. I- I- I must tell you that, uh . . .
uh . . . it would not be something that we would want to do, because
what you try to do in exit polling, in any polling, is to have the
process as pure as you can, and uh. . . the purity in, uh . . . in
this case. . . has to do with someone who has uh. . . uh. . . only
kind of a general interest in doing it. You're . . . I would not want
to hire you because you've . . you or your organization has been
antagonists for reasons that I don't understand, uh . . . and, uh . .
. and, uh . . .
Collier- I don't have an
organization. Actually I'm not even on staff at the Global Report, I
just - -
Headline- Well, you represent
yourself as being from the Global Report.
Collier- I'm writing for the
Global Report. Actually I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to speak to
anybody if I didn't have some kind of an organization, either a
newspaper or something else behind me--
Collier- Which I do. But you
know, I'm not on staff with them, and really I am- I'm a voter. I'm
just a person, a citizen, who's interested.
Collier- That's all. And I
think, well, isn't that criteria for working for the exit polls?
Headline- Well, uh . . .
generally speaking, it's nice to have some polling experience, but,
uh. . . but that's not absolutely necessary. We recruit people who
have an interest in doing the job, and will rehearse according to our
directions and follow the directions that are part of the polling
package. And certainly you . . uh. . . you might well qualify.
Collier- Well listen, I am not
antagonistic. And I certainly hope I haven't been in this telephone
call. I'm just interested in the voting procedure, and I'm. . . you
know, I'm just a politically active person.
Collier- I'm just interested in
it. So I don't see how I wouldn't qualify. And I really would enjoy
doing it. And it's not that I'm unaware of the problems that certain
people have had with your organization, but I'm willing to look at
everything unbiasedly. I just want to see how it runs.
Headline- Right, right. . .
Collier- So, how would I go
about doing this?
Headline- Drop me a line.
Collier- Well, I am. I'm
dropping you a line. This is the line.
Headline- Okay. Okay.
Collier- So, what's the next
Headline- Uh. . . uh, if. . .
if you'll drop me a line, I'll get it into the hands of the people
who do the recruiting, and uh. . . and, we'll see where it goes from
there. And I'm, I'm willing to pass that along without any. . .
without any comments or restrictions.
Collier- Okay. I'm glad I'm
speaking to you, because I really did want to speak to somebody and I
know that Ms. Shapiro isn't in today, and I did have a question. I
mean, if you're concerned about the antagonism then it's a good
opportunity to clear up some of the --
Headline- Well, she had had a
conversation with somebody from the Global Report the other day that
was less than satisfactory. I guess in every respect.
Collier- I know.
Headline- So she's a little
cautious about, about --
Collier- I think what it was,
was that she (the GR reporter) had asked if there was a citizen
oversight group for VNS and Ms. Shapiro said she didn't want to "get
into it." Then I think that there was an accusation that Ms.
Shapiro was being evasive. And, you know, that wasn't necessary, I'm
sure that there is an answer- and there is. The answer is; No, there
isn't a citizen group. And that would've been sufficient.
Headline- Right. Well the point
there is that. . . uh. . . is that if, if our results are. . . are. .
. uh, not accurate, uh. . . then our credibility ceases. And uh. . .
Collier- But, you see --
Headline- We feel like there's
a. . . a substantial body out there of official election result
collectors, with whom we, uh. . . with whom we have to be in sync.
Collier- Well, I'm pretty sure
you're aware of the book "Votescam?"
Headline- Uh, yes.
Collier- I'm just assuming you
Headline- I'm not intimately
aware of it, I'm aware that, uh. . . that such a book exists. That it
made all sorts of allegations about what we do and how we do it and
why we do it.
Collier- Well, I think the main
problem there is that there were two reporters who actually had come
up with really massive evidence of vote fraud, and then when they
went to get it to the Media, the Media was unwilling to investigate
the charges. And so, of course, because the Media is so powerful,
they couldn't get anywhere with the story. And if that ever is truly
a problem, as it had been, considering that you ARE the Media, then
the question comes into play; Is there a citizen watchdog group, and
an independant media source that could report on vote fraud? How
could they do it, if you're the Media, and you're in the process of
counting the votes, and nobody's allowed in to watch the process?
Headline- Well, what I would
suggest to you is, in the current Media climate, if there was any,
uh. . . any substance in any allegation about vote fraud, that there
would be all sorts of Media people out there, uh. . .uh, who would be
not only willing but anxious to jump in and prove it.
Collier- Well, you would think
so. You would definitely think so. But that hasn't been the case.
Headline- Well, what I'm
suggesting to you is that, given the importance and influence of the
Internet, the fact that many Internet publications seem to. . .uh. .
. exist with a different set of rules than the ones that we're used
to, uh. . . I don't think you'd find much hesitation in attacking us
if there was anything to attack.
Collier- Well, there already is
more than one Website and many reporters doing just that. But you
know, they're really only attacking from outside the gates. They
aren't allowed in. And maybe that would fix the problem, if on
election night one of these independent media groups was able to take
part or at least witness what goes on.
Headline- But, but. . tell me
what the problem is!
Collier- The problem is simply
that they can't. They can't get in.
Headline- No, but, tell me. . .
tell me what the allegations are. Is there any evidence that anything
that we've ever done is, uh. . has been illicit or immoral? Or has --
Collier- There's actually very
little evidence of anything because nobody can get in.
Headline- No, but. . . but, but
you or the people who you've been associated with are questioning
what. . . what we do and how we do it, uh . . . as if there was some
wrong that's been done out there.
Collier- Well, actually, there
is evidence. Just for example, I believe it was in Iowa, there was a-
I'm not sure which election this was- there was a citizen group
watching the county vote count, a paper ballot count- and then when
the results were reported- it was a Buchanan support group who was
watching- I believe the county results were different than the
results from VNS broadcast over the news. And so, you're right, it
can be watched at the county level, and it was watched at the county
level, but, when the supporters of Buchanan demanded the final
results from the county, and this must've been in 1996, they have yet
to receive them!
Headline- Thats. . .their
battle is with the county, it's not with us.
Collier- Well, it's also with
you, because they don't agree with the results that they were given
from you, but they need the official results from the county so that
they can deal with it from there, and they still haven't received it.
So you see, you can't depend on the goodwill of the county,
Headline- (laughs) The official
results have to be available from the county.
Collier- You would think so,
but, you know, they're not. And in most cases people are not watching
the vote at the county level anyway. Although that might change in
the future, as more people become aware of the need to do this. They
haven't realized the need to watch the process. And you, the Media,
you don't tell them they have to watch the process. So, you know,
everyone's asleep. Everyone simply assumes that the results they see
on television are the real ones, without questioning it. And if you
committed fraud, who would report on it?
Headline- Let me make something
perfectly clear to you, which is that, uh. . . . . What we do. . .
and how we do it . . . We have absolutely no qualms, uh. . . about
how we do what we do and we have no concerns about the ethical
character about what we do. And what we do is, uh. . . attempt to be
as correct and. . . and as statistically correct and as accurate as
we can be, and the idea that we would cook the numbers somehow is. .
. is so outrageous to us, and so implausible, and impossible, that --
Headline- That we're kind of
shocked by the accusations.
Collier- How is it implausible
and impossible? . . . That's a good thing to explain! That would
clear all this up.
Headline- Because we're a
creature of the six leading journalistic organizations in the
country, none of whom could survive if they did that sort of thing.
It's very simple.
Collier- How is that? How is it
that they couldn't survive? Because there are already independant
reporters who have tried to cover this story, vote fraud in
conjunction with VNS, and they. . . they couldn't get anywhere with
it. There was a total Media blackout.
Headline- If-if-if NBC News or
CBS News or the Associated Press cooked the numbers, falsely
reported, and believe me, if there. . . if there was. . . lets take
for example, uh. . . let's use an example out of television.
"Dateline," and the uh. . . . and the staging that they did
some years ago in the story on gas tanks exploding. I'm sure you
remember that. Uh. . . General Motors pick-up trucks. Uh. . . that
was discovered, and reported upon, by independant press and by
everybody in the business and uh. . . .and "Dateline" took
a lot of hits. They were wrong, they were proven wrong, and that's
the kind of thing that could destroy a journalistic organization. And
that's not what they're about, that was an embarrasment to people
within NBC News and to everyone in the business. And that's not the
kind of thing that anybody invites. And to cook the books, or falsely
report, would open all six of our Member organizations to that kind
of criticism. And --
Collier- Well, obviously.
Headline- And that's not what
Collier- But the thing is- now,
tell me if I'm wrong, I'm trying to understand this- If you're a pool
of all these different Media organizations, it's not that they would
be falsely reporting, necessarily, I mean they're getting their vote
totals from you. Right? Everybody's getting the same numbers from
Headline- Yeah. . . They, they
use them as they see fit. And they all have their own numbers as
Collier- They all have their
own numbers? Now, wait. Look, I'm sure you can explain this to me. I
want to get this straight. If, on election night, all the counties
across the nation are getting their results, then do they all call
you? You have headquarters at 34th street?
Headline- That's where our
offices are, yes.
Collier- Okay, so on election
night, they call the results from the county--
Headline- Our reporters call.
Collier- You have reporters?
Collier- From the different
Headline- Yes-No. We hire. .
.uh, county level reporters and some precinct level reporters, all
over the country. Thousands of them.
Collier- You hire thousands of
Collier- Okay, and they call.
Do you use the League of Women Voters?
Headline- In some areas.
Collier- Okay, so they're
actually calling by telephone to give you the county results?
Collier- Okay, and you must
have some kind of computer to tabulate all these results--
Collier- And is this computer
at 34th street?
Collier- Where is it?
Headline- Part of it is in New
Jersey, part of it is uh, wherever our, uh, National Input Center is,
and part of it's at 34th street.
Collier- Does that change each
election, wherever your National Input Center is?
Headline- It changes from time
Collier- And so then as you're
tabulating the results-- does NBC have the same set-up? And CBS, and
ABC, and AP and all those? Do they also have computers tabulating
results as they're called in?
Headline- The uh. . . the
numbers. . . uh, the vote totals, Associated Press has it's own
set-up. Uh. . . and they report their own results and their results
are received by all the Members along with the results that we're
reporting. And more and more there are Websites, either county
Websites or statewide Websites that also count votes and people are
looking at, uh. . . the Members are looking at those results, uh. . .
as a supplement to what they receive from us.
Collier- Okay, so AP has it's
own set-up, and I know that they have, I believe, for a while, but
yet they're also part of VNS.
Headline- That's true. They
have different needs than the rest of the Members. The Associated
Press has to report on every single election, down to Dog Catcher,
for its readership in. . .in small towns across the country. The
television Networks report at the statewide level.
Collier- And you're just
reporting the top of the ticket?
Collier- Okay, but aside from
AP, the Networks are getting the numbers from you?
Headline- With. . . . with the
caveat that more and more Websites are out there and uh. . . the
Members are interested in getting as much information as they can, so
they're looking at Websites as well as our numbers, as well as AP
Collier- I'm just trying to
understand how it works, that's all-- so they're calling in vote
totals from the county, but then they're also giving you exit poll
Headline- We conduct the exit
polls and. . . uh. . . . our exit poll people report their results to
us several times during the course of an election day. Uh. . . we
evaluate that information and provide our recommendations, or our
interpretations, if you will, our predictions, if you want to use
that word, for the Members. The Members are also conducting their own
polls, and using their own sources, and checking our information
against what they have, and may or may not call a particular election
based on our information or based on a combination of our information
and theirs, or, if they think we're wrong, they go with their
Collier- Wow, this is strangely
. . . complex, and really . . . casual. And yet--such accuracy!
You're numbers have often been nearly one hundred percect perfect.
Okay, then this is my final question--
Headline- I don't mean to be,
difficult, or any of this, I'm uh. . . uh . . . . I'm . . . I'm
really flabbergasted at the uh. . . at the nature of the allegations
that have floated around there and whatever it was that uh, Votescam,
uh. . . undertook to prove, because it's so far off base that it's,
just. . . it's just hard for me to fathom.
Collier- Well, maybe you should
read the book, and then it probably wouldn't be so shocking. It's
really not shocking. You understand that not everybody trusts the
major media. That shouldn't shock you. If it does--
Headline- I understand that,
but I've worked in major media for thirty five years, and so I have
a. . . I have a strong faith in what it is we do and why.
Collier- Well that's good. But
if anything, take the opportunity to dispel some of the fears that
Headline- Well that's why I'm
talking to you.
Collier- Right, so my question
is, if there is nothing to worry about, is it not possible for
somebody to watch the VNS process on election night? To follow the
vote from wherever, if it's in New York, if it's in New Jersey--
Headline- If it's in New York
City then we get it from the Police Department. Because they're the
official vote counters in New York.
Collier- Okay, so. . . see, it
can be confusing, because you're getting your results from so many
different places, through so many different people--
Headline- It's not confusing.
Collier- For an outsider, I
Headline- It shouldn't be
confusing. We get the vote totals from whatever the official, kind of
the easiest offical source there is to get them from, which is
generally at the county level.
Collier- Right, there's not
just one, across-the-board standard procedure.
Headline- Well that's because
we live in a democracy and there are 50 states and there are several
thousand counties and every one of them has it's own way of doing
Collier- Yes, but it seems that
it's particularly complex with the vote. I mean we all do things
nationally, for example we all pay our taxes and we pretty much have
to do it in the same way on the same day, so you know, we manage to
organize when we have to on a national level. If we really wanted to
we could organize the election process, and we should. All I'm asking
is- could I, or could somebody else from an independent newspaper, or
even a citizen organization, follow the vote through its processes
and then, wherever VNS is located, follow it up into wherever it gets
tabulated and your people are doing their thing on election night,
and could we videotape the process? And it really doesn't have to do
with any ridiculous allegations, it just seems that every part of the
vote counting process should be open to the public. That's all.
Headline- I'm, I'm uh. . .
First of all, I can't make the commitment, because that's something
that would have to be approved by the Members. And I have no way of
knowing what the Members . . uh. . . would be willing to go along
Collier- Well, what's the
problem? What would be the problem?
Headline- There, there is no
problem. This is a. . . we're private organizations, and you know,
uh. . . uh. . . Mobile Oil doesn't invite people in to see how they
send out credit card bills.
Collier- But of course, this is
different. This is the national vote count.
Headline- It isn't different.
Collier- It is different.
Headline- It's not. The
official vote count is conducted at the. . uh, at the city, state,
uh. . . county and state level, and nationally. Well, actually, not
nationally, it's all done at the state level, and, uh. . . and that's
the official vote. We're a bunch of reporters who have developed
methods of speeding up the process to report more quickly. And
that's. . . that's really what we're . . . what we're about. And we.
. . uh, regardless of what we report, the official results are the
official results. And if we're wrong, we're wrong. We've been wrong,
uh, occasionally, not very often. And so--
Collier- You've been--
Headline- And so there's little
. . . there's little appetite to, to open up a process that's. . .
that's basically a- a- a private process.
Collier- It's a private
process? Well, I'm telling you, this secrecy. . . this leads to the
incredible allegations that you don't understand.
Headline- Well, if- if, for
some reason, there was a reason for those allegations, if- if- if it
was. . . if there was any sense that we deliberately miscalled
elections, uh. . .
Collier- Well there is a sense.
Headline- Uh. . . or tried in
any way to influence the actual outcome, then I'd, then I'd have some
sympathy for this concern of yours.
Collier- So you're basically
saying that. . . that we'll just have to trust you, but you're not
going to show us anything that you do?
Headline- There's . . . you
know, what, what --
Collier- Listen, vote fraud is
not some insane concept. I mean, it's pretty common.
Headline- I absolutely agree
with you, but what I'm telling you--
Collier- So it's understandable
to want to watch every single part of the process.
Headline- But what I'm saying
Collier- Why is that so
Headline- What I'm saying is
that we are not the official vote count! If there's vote fraud, then
you go to the state or the county or the city where it exists. All we
do is report results.
Collier- Okay, so then take the
Ohio situation, one of the rare instances where anyone was paying
attention to the vote count. If they got the wrong numbers from VNS
and they haven't been able to get the right results from the county,
then yes, it's definitely a problem with the county, but it's also a
problem with VNS.
Headline- What Ohio problem?
Collier- The Buchanan
Headline- Oh, you mean the Iowa
Collier- Oh, yes. I'm sorry,
the Iowa problem.
Headline- Or whatever that was.
. . A non problem. . .
Collier- (pause) . . .It's a
Headline- Yeah. And I. . . I
need to do some research before I address that at any particular
Collier- Why do you call it a
Headline- Because it was. . .
allegations that were made in the political interest of the Buchanan
folks. And they had nothing to do with reality.
Collier- Nothing to do with
Collier- Why? . . . I mean, I'm
sorry but, that's a strong statement. I just want to know what makes
you say it.
Headline- Because. . . there
was no basis for the accusations that were made. No basis in fact.
Collier- But I thought that you
didn't. . . that you had never heard of those allegations before.
Headline- No I didn't say that.
Collier- Okay. You just seemed
to be unfamiliar with it, so why--
Headline- I'm vaguely familiar
Collier- Well then how can you
say it has no basis in fact if you're only vaguely familiar with it?
That's a strange thing to say.
Headline- No it's not, because
I . . . that's, uh. . . that's what I'd been told by people who work
for me, uh . . . uh. . . whom I trust.
Collier- . . . Alright. Well. .
. this has been a long conversation. I'm going to . . . I'm going to
do that. I'm going to drop you a line.
Collier- Like you said.
Collier- And maybe you'll allow
me to be one of your polling people in this next election. I would
also like to know if you would do me that favor and ask the Members
if they would be willing to have an independant media group follow
the vote. That's all. Just follow the vote. From start to finish.
It's not that you're being accused of anything in particular, it's
simply that you're part of the process. And the process actually does
belong to the people.
Headline- We're part of the
Collier- Well, that's how
people find out about the vote, through reporting. So you know, they
want to be able to watch it. And people really are interested in what
goes on at VNS! But if you say that it's not something that you need
to tell or show people and that it's private, well. . . it'll have to
rest at that. But maybe you'd be willing to ask the Members--
Headline- Okay. I'm willing to
ask. Just drop me a line.
Collier- Alright. I will. I
appreciate your time.
On Monday, June 12, Victoria
Collier again telephoned Bill Headline.
Headline- Bill Headline.
Collier- Hi, Mr. Headline. This
is Victoria Collier.
Headline- How are you?
Collier- Fine thanks, I was
wondering if you ever did speak to the members if it would be
possible to have some independent media present at VNS on election
Headline- No, I was kind of
waiting for you to send me a note which I thought you were going to
Collier- Oh, I thought I only
had to send you a note about the polling.
Headline- Well, uh, I was going
to use that as a reminder of. . uh. . raising questions about having
an independent presence, and uh, and uh, so I have not talked to the
board, but I will.
Collier- Ok, would it be
helpful if I faxed something over to you?
Collier- What's your number?
Collier- Ok, well, I had one
other question. Where will your National Input center be in November?
Headline- Uh. . .why?
Collier- (laughs) Why? I just
want to know where it's going to be.
Headline- What difference does
Collier- What difference does
it make if you tell me? I'm not going to show up and--
Headline- Well, the only reason
that I am at all hesitant is that uh. . uh. . is that we have had
occasional threats over the years that people will try to uh, disrupt
what we do and uh, and therefore, I'm not at all anxious to share the
Collier- Really? Who has
Headline- Uh. .uh. . .I'm not
sure that I even . .this was long before I was on the scene, so I'm
not sure that I know the names and the organizations, but there are
some kooks out there who occasionally think there's something goofy
about what we do. . .or something wrong or improper and so uh--
Collier- Well again, you know
that's why it comes back to maybe opening up the process in an
Headline- There's nothing
official. . .I have rehashed the conversation that you and I had
several times and uh, you know this is a. . .this is a private
operation and we have a, uh, uh--
Collier- Do you think
personally, just on a personal level, on a human level, you can
understand how people might feel about--
Headline- Well, I suppose
conspiracy theorists might see something sinister about what we do.
I've been in the business so long that I understand that uh, the
networks and the associated press are not going to set up something
which has the possibility of uh. . uh. . of being proven wrong,
improper, criminal, whatever. There's far too much at stake in terms
of their reputations as news organizations, so--
Collier- I'm not talking about
conspiracy theories. I just mean the fact that you do have a certain
amount of control over the voting information and--
Headline- We have no control
over the voting information.We collect. . .we collect results and uh,
we publish them and the public record is the check and balance--
Collier- But nobody's looking.
Headline- --and we have no
control over the public record.
Collier- But see, you have
psychological control over the entire process.
Headline- If we're wrong we're
wrong and if we're right we're right.
Collier- Well, that's actually
another question I had. You said that if the networks thought you
were wrong on your numbers, they could use their own numbers. Why
would they think that you were wrong?
Headline- They have people who
are highly schooled and uh, in statsitics and in uh. . uh. . and in
voting behavior and--
Collier- Oh, you mean just in
the polling numbers, not on the actual vote numbers coming in?
Headline- On the polling
numbers, yeah. The voting numbers coming in uh... nobody challenges
us. . . because they know what the source is. . . and. . .
Collier- Right, that's my
point. Nobody challenges it and nobody in the public would ever
challenge it either because they trust you.
Headline- If. . if we're
wrong..uh, uh. . we had a reporting discrepency. . it had to do with
the times at which we reported votes opposed to the time when the
Texas Secretary of State reported votes on the senatorial primary
this year, and bingo, it was instantly challenged and uh, uh, we did
a thororough analysis and went back and reconciled our records with
the Texas Secretary of Strate and uh, everybody understands that it
was a perfectly plausible error. But the fact is that. . uh, we. . .
only because of the time we recorded things gave a report that ended
up not tallying with the final official results. We were challenged
instantly and. . and...
Collier- I don't understand. .
. the time at which you reported things?
Headline- At the time when we
had results in, it gave one candidate a slight advantage over another
candidate. It had nothing to do with the official result because this
is a question between second and third place in the primary, and. .
uh. . .the vote count, the leader changed . . .let's. . . example. .
.and these are not the exact times. Let's say that at 1:45 in the
morning uh, we published our report, that is we put out what we
thought the results were. . .and at 2 in the morning the Texas
Secretary of State put out their results, and the second and third
place order was different. Well, the fact of the matter was that we
were right at 1:45, but they were right at 2 a.m. and the numbers
held.But, but the point is uh, that there was instant scrutiny which
there would be anywhere.
Collier- No, that's absolutely
not the case. Most people aren't paying any attention at all.
Headline- Well, the people that
are paying attention are the officials to whom. . . and that's the
Collier- Right. Well, I think
people are feeling now that maybe there needs to be an official
citizen check instead.. .
Headline- Who's "people"?
Headline- Voters. We've had one
call from you in the last. . .I mean, well, we've had two, three or
five calls from you. . those are the only calls we've had--
Collier- Well, I speak to many
people. . .
Headline- --questioning our
procedures, our results, our right to do what we do. . the fact that
we exist. I mean, I cannot take one call from one person, or five
calls from one person, as an indicator that there is even the
slightest suspicion that there's something wrong with what we do. I
mean, there are another two hundred million people out there. . .all
of whom could be calling us--
Collier- Most people don't even
know you exist. Anyway, don't you think it's a good thing for
Americans to be vigilent about their vote count.
Headline- They're very vigilent
about their vote count.
Collier- No, I don't believe
that they are. I do speak to many people personally who are
interested in what you do. They might not be calling you... they
don't feel that they can get any response from you. But you have been
responding to me and that's good. But they don't feel that you would.
Most people are not pro-active enough to actually call up a private
corporation and try to get any information from them. But the thing
is, I'm not trying to attack you personally.
Headline- It feels like that.
Collier- No, no. . .I don't
know why it isn't a positive thing for an American voter to say, hey,
what are you doing?
Headline- Because I've given
you an answer and you won't accept it--
Collier- Well, it just leads to
Headline- And I'm trying to
give you the truth and you won't accept the truth, so I don't know
what to do with you.
Collier- Well, I accept it,
there's nothing that I can change, I just don't agree with some of
your premises. I believe that. . .I mean personally, I'll admit it to
you. . . I don't trust the major media simply because I know the
amount of information that's censored by the press on a daily basis
because I work with the alternative press.
Headline- That changes the
nature of this entire conversation, and I don't want to talk to you
anymore, send me your fax. (hangs up.)
Final update -- not long after
this conversation, VNS put a website on the Internet. It was one
page. None of the links or navigation tabs worked. Ever.
to Campaign 2000 Index
on Domestic Relations Home