Dingell Asks Networks Not to Make Early Projections

Wants to Avoid Voter Suppression

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The powerful chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., is calling on the national TV and cable news channels to hold off projecting the winner of the presidential election Tuesday night until all polls nationwide are closed.

In letters to network execs, Mr. Dingell calls the election "historic" and expresses concern that any early naming of a winner will depress voting in the rest of the nation.

"It is critical that television coverage of the election results does not serve to depress voter turnout by calling the election for a particular Presidential candidate before all polls have closed nationwide," according to the letter.

"We are all too familiar with the voter confusion caused by the erroneous early calls by various cable and television networks of the 2000 Presidential election," the letter continues. "And many, myself included, believe that when television stations call elections based on the results in a few eastern states, voter turnout elsewhere in the nation could potentially be lower than it would otherwise have been. This potentially affects not only the results of the Presidential election, but also could have a dramatic impact on other contests for elected office.

"I therefore urge you to refrain from calling the 2008 Presidential election until all polls across the country are closed. Such a fair and judicious approach will allow the elections to play out as they may, without any unintended influence by the media, and is in the best interests of the country."

Polling places in Hawaii are open until 6 p.m., which would mean that under the proposal, the networks couldn't declare a winner until midnight East Coast time.