Is Online Voting for the Oscars Really a Problem?

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 28 2012 5:17 PM

Is Online Voting for the Oscars Really a Problem?

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A display of Nate Sanders' collection of Oscar statuettes before his auction company sold them online.

Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images

This year, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can cast their votes for Oscar nominees electronically—and what is supposed to make the voting process easier has reportedly been a nightmare for some. Multiple problems stemming from the online process have been noted since voting began on December 17, and some are calling for an extension of the January 3rd deadline due to their inability to successfully submit their ballots.

How serious are these problems? Scott Feinberg was able to speak to several members, most of whom seemed less than computer-savvy. One got locked out of his account when he couldn’t remember his password correctly, for instance, while another said he needed the help of his son to submit his ballot.

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Which is a reminder that the Academy is not exactly young. The median age of its voters is 62, with only 14 percent falling under the age of 50. “Listen,” one member told Feinberg, “I don’t do anything online. You know, I don’t even have a computer. I’m writing my next book in longhand with drawings in notebooks!” Some of these members distrust the online system—“I’m not convinced that it’s exactly the Fort Knox of sites,” one says—while others think it’s too secure. “It’s easier to break into the CIA,” another complains.

Feinberg describes a fear of smaller turnout due to those who either give up, or can’t vote in time. But it’s worth noting that you can still vote the old-fashioned way, and his piece, while well reported, appears to be essentially anecdotal. While some may conclude that the Academy jumped the gun with this technological innovation, a better lesson may be that it’s long past time for the Academy to add new blood.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

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