If any Academy members have a hard time adjusting to electronic voting, it won’t be for a lack of options — or time.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences on Tuesday confirmed what’s been expected for months: E-voting starts this year. And while most ballots are likely to be cast online, several alternatives will be available to members, including assisted voting stations in Los Angeles, New York and London, as well as a 24-hour telephone help line.
For the old-school, paper ballots will still be available. Whether those paper ballots survive beyond this year will depend on how things go this first time around, Academy COO Ric Robertson told Variety.
AMPAS also moved up the announcement of nominations to Jan. 10 — five days earlier than previously scheduled — to give members more time to see nominated pics before turning in their final ballots. Shift moves noms ahead of the Golden Globes ceremony by three days, potentially stealing thunder from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s signature event. The Directors Guild of America in turn moved up its noms announcements by two days to Jan. 8 for feature nods and Jan. 9 for TV and commercial noms.
Robertson said disrupting the Globes’ telecast date wasn’t a determining factor.
“We live in our own world when we’re making these decisions,” Robertson said. “We’re only thinking about what serves the Academy.”
Robertson said the new date also gives AMPAS more time to conduct its own business.
“The other thing that we talked about — and is still in discussion — is the number of events we put on in the week leading up to the show,” Robertson said. “We are looking at expanding that level of activity a bit, with screenings and the like, and having more time would help facilitate that.”
The Acad worked with longtime partner PricewaterhouseCoopers and global elections consultant Everyone Counts to develop the voting process, which is not yet entirely electronic: In the nominations round, special screening arrangements will require paper ballots only for the animated feature, animated short, live action short, docu feature, docu short, foreign language film, makeup and hairstyling categories.
Move to online voting should make the process easier for Academy members living or working outside of L.A., as well as quicken the process of tallying ballots.
Will it provide more opportunity for campaign shenanigans?
“We’ll keep an eye on it,” Robertson said, “though we don’t expect it to.”
Other key dates revealed Tuesday:
Friday, Nov. 30: Official Screen Credits due
Saturday, Dec. 1: Governors Awards presentation
Monday, Dec. 17: Nominations voting begins
Thursday, Jan. 3: Nominations voting ends 5 p.m. PT
Thursday, Jan. 10: Nominations announced 5:30 a.m. PT, Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater
Monday, Feb. 4: Nominees Luncheon
Friday, Feb. 8: Final voting begins
Saturday, Feb. 9: Scientific and Technical Awards presentation
Tuesday, Feb. 19: Final voting ends 5 p.m. PT
Sunday, Feb. 24: 85th Academy Awards presentation