Monday, November 11, 2002 12:00AM EST
By DAN KANE, Staff Writer
Though we're in an era of instant communication, automated polling and massive computer networks, the 2002 elections may
go down as a big mystery contest in terms of who voted and why.
The Voter News Service, the exit poll service used by a consortium of major news organizations, failed election night,
and it's unclear whether the service will ever release the data it collected around the country.
"The answer is we are looking into whether or not we will process the data," Lee C. Shapiro, VNS's media services
director, said last week. "I would doubt that we would process it by next week."
The lack of data left political parties, pundits and news organizations, including The News & Observer, scrambling to draw some insight into the election results from other sources, such as precinct turnout. But
despite the missed opportunity last week, many say they would still be interested in getting the exit poll data.
"The fact that these exit polls have been going on since the 1950s gives us a nice timeline for us to study the
electorate from across the nation, the region and the state," said Thad Beyle, a political science professor at
UNC-Chapel Hill. "The people who are in politics certainly want to know about it, and the people who do research on
politics want to know about it."
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