For the first time in its history, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is allowing its members to vote online for the Academy Awards. Unfortunately, things aren't going so smoothly.
As Deadline.com first reported, the AMPAS opened electronic voting on Dec. 17, and the system was immediately buggy, with voters unable to login with their passwords. The issue was so widespread that AMPAS sent out an apology note. Via Deadline.com:
Thank you for contacting us regarding electronic voting. I am sorry to hear that you encountered problems when logging in to vote. While there were a few minor issues that caused problems for a small group of members, those are now cleared up so you are free to log in and vote.
I apologize that it occurred to you but rest assured that it wasn’t system wide and everything has been cleared up. We hope that you are still looking forward to voting electronically this year and encourage you to do so at your convenience.
About that convenience: According to Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter, Academy members are still having difficulty with the voting system, perhaps owing to the fact that the older members of the body aren't used to operating websites. (As Feinberg notes, the median age of Oscar voters is 62.) Per the AMPAS, a large number of the issues stem from users "forgetting or misusing passwords."
Whether the system or the participants are flawed, the issue still remains -- and it's serious enough that some unnamed Academy members told Feinberg that Oscar voting could be diminished as a result.
One member says, "There will probably be a large percentage of people who will just say, 'Screw it,' and not even vote this year." Says another: "I have heard from several that it’s been a disaster and they wanted to give up. Confused and frustrated people will just not vote.”
If there is a low voter turnout, that could negatively affect the Oscar nominations, which are announced on Jan. 10, 2013. The Academy Awards are voted on with a preferential ballot for Best Picture, meaning each nominee has to receive roughly five percent of the AMPAS vote earn one of the coveted nomination slots. If, as alluded to in Feinberg's piece, older voters decide not to participate -- meaning they also don't bother with paper ballots, an option still available to every Academy member -- it could potentially mean that older-skewing films won't get the necessary nomination percentage. Or it could mean nothing at all, and the Oscars will be unaffected by the online glitches.
For more on the Academy Awards e-voting controversy, head over to THR.com.