Do the Oscars Have Write-In Votes?

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 16 2013 2:02 PM

Do the Oscars Have Write-In Votes?

159316618
Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Almost a week after Oscar nominations were announced, the snubs of expected directing shoe-ins Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow continue to bother some members of the academy. (Affleck’s wins at the Golden Globes have likely fueled their sense of injustice.) While their anger would seem to be futile at this point, Scott Feinberg and Stephen Galloway at the Hollywood Reporter have suggested that they could channel it in a useful direction, by pushing for a write-in campaign. Do the Oscars allow for write-in votes?

Not anymore. As Feinberg and Galloway note, write-in ballots have been banned since cinematographer Hal Mohr won the Oscar for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1936, the first and only person to do so thanks to a write-in campaign. The previous year, people were so upset that Bette Davis was not nominated for her performance in Of Human Bondage, that a write-in campaign was launched with the approval of academy president Howard Eastbrook. Davis finished third. (Back then, they released vote tallies after the awards were handed out.) After Mohr won, however, the academy decided to overhaul the voting process, and in so doing they eliminated write-in voting altogether.

Advertisement

Every so often, academy members do threaten to submit write-in votes anyway. When Michael Moore’s Roger and Me failed to gain a nod for Best Documentary in 1990, 48 filmmakers called for a write-in vote. But their protest did not result in a rules change. (Moore later pushed for an overhaul of the Best Documentary selection process, and was successful: A set of changes were put into place this year.)

In 2009, an academy voter told E! News they planned to submit a write-in vote for The Dark Knight for Best Picture. E! correctly noted that such a vote would not count.

A push for Affleck or Bigelow seems no more likely to succeed—it would require an unprecedented groundswell among academy voters. While such a groundswell seems highly improbable, it is not 100 percent out of the question: The nominees for Best Director are selected only by the roughly 400 members of the directing branch, who are collectively less than 10 percent of the academy. Are the other 90 percent upset enough about Affleck’s and Bigelow’s absences from the slate to make a rule change happen?

Considering how often the academy changes its rules and voting process, there is always a chance, however small, that the write-in vote could eventually return. But don’t expect to see it back this year.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.