WASHINGTON – Exit-poll data will be under lock and key Election Day to help networks avoid the Bush-Gore debacle of 2000 - and prevent bloggers from trumpeting results before the polls close.
The crucial info - which could provide an early hint if a Democratic wave is in fact under way - will be squirreled away in a windowless New York office room dubbed the "Quarantine Room," the Washington Post first reported.
A media consortium established to track polling results has set up ironclad rules to prevent leaks to news-hungry Web sites like the Drudge Report.
Only two staffers from each of the TV networks and The Associated Press will be authorized to tear through the exit-poll data at the vote vault.
Those staffers will have to surrender their cellphones, laptop computers and BlackBerrys - it's the price of admission.
And they won't be able communicate with their offices until 5 p.m.
The consortium, the National Election Pool, is conducting exit surveys of the hotly contested Senate races and the 32 competitive gubernatorial races - but they won't be touching the three dozen House seats up for grabs.
That will mean a late night for political junkies, who'll have to wait for the polls to close in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and California before TV networks will definitely call the House races.
Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats to win majority in the House for the first time in a dozen years.
They need to pick up six Senate seats to take control of that 100-member chamber.