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Slate Website Plans to Break Traditional Election Day Results Embargo

Image: Slate Website Plans to Break Traditional Election Day Results Embargo

By    |   Saturday, 17 Sep 2016 03:46 PM

The founder of VoteCastr, a new company that will supply results of the November general election as they happen, rather than waiting until the the polls close, said Saturday his service will work as "play-by-play announcers" and keep supplying results until voting is over for Slate, which has already announced it will run them.

"We basically collect four pieces of data, three pieces prior to the election, one piece on election day," founder Ken Smukler explained to CNN's Michael Smerconish on Saturday. "We do our own survey research, but we do large scale surveys immediately prior to the election. Then we do historic turnout tracking models that tell us what to expect at each precinct in a battleground state in terms of total turnout."

When Election Day arrives, VoteCastr sends out field workers to capture precinct results, he continued, and "when you have that turnout number and run it against the models that we've set up, you get the projected outcome,"

Slate has already announced it plans to use the VoteCastr service on Election Day, breaking a taboo that started in 1980. That year, NBC News called the election for Ronald Reagan at 8:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, hours before the West Coast's polls closed, and many critics said calling the race early meant Western state voters decided not to cast ballots.

Slate Editor-in-Chief Julia Turner writes that the website decided to change the way it reports elections because "the posture the media have collectively adopted on Election Day is paternalistic toward voters and puts journalists in the awkward and unfamiliar position of concealing information from their readers."

Also, she writes that research shows that releasing results and calling elections early have "no consistent effects" on voters and puts journalists in the position of "withholding information on a hunch."

Slate trusts VoteCastr, she said, as its staff has experts from both sides of the aisle, including veterans from the campaigns for Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Further, its chief strategist is former Slate columnist Sasha Issenberg, who "wrote the book on modern campaign technology."

Smukler said Saturday that it will remain up to the networks to call the election, so whether that succeeds will fall "on them."

Veteran journalist Jeff Greenfield, who was also on Saturday's program, said his initial results for the play-by-play results meant the "barbarians [were] at the gate, but he's completely changed his mind.

"Don't forget [Jimmy] Carter conceded while the West Coast was open," Greenfield said. "The evidence is all anecdotal. I've never been able to figure out who stayed home, the people who knew they won or the people who knew that their guy had lost."

But times have changed, and this time around, things will be different.

"Let's say that you're a [Hillary] Clinton voter in a battleground state," said Greenfield. "VoteCastr is telling you that the [Donald] Trump turnout so far at 11 a.m. In the morning is higher. You have the option to call your friends and to e-mail and to Facebook and say, 'hey, come on, let's get out there and vote.'"

But with numbers that have already happened, "you know, and you can't do anything about it," Greenfield continued. "As opposed to numbers that tell you what has happened, you know, and you can't do anything about it. So, in this sense, I do think it is potentially an empowering mechanism for voters, unlike the motion of leaking exit polls."

Smukler said his company is working with Slate to be sure there will be a "robust enough platform so that every eyeball in America that wants to see this data can actually see it in real time on election day. You put the right people in place and execute and you can succeed in this game."

Issenberg commented in a recent interview with Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight election podcast that he believes more exciting reporting will increase, not decrease voter turnout, reports JP Updates. 

"I don’t think that we should be sort of imprisoned by the fact that a few congressmen lost their seats in 1980 and decided to blame this on television networks," Issenberg said.

Silver, though remains skeptical about the plan, tweeting: 

 

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The founder of VoteCastr, a new company that will supply results of the November general election as they happen, rather than waiting until the the polls close, said Saturday his service will work as play-by-play announcers and keep supplying results until voting is over...
slate, votecastr, embargo, results, real, time
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2016-46-17
Saturday, 17 Sep 2016 03:46 PM
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