It looks like online Oscar voting is hitting a few snags, which some Academy members worry might depress voting participation to its lowest level in years. \ Voting to determine the next set of Oscar nominees began Dec. 17 and will extend through Jan. 3. On Dec. 26, I reached out to a wide cross-section of the Academy to see if they tried to vote online (an Academy spokesperson tells me that “a great majority” of members have registered to do so) and, if so, to characterize their experience. Roughly half of the members reached said they experienced problems navigating the site; more than one described it as a “disaster.” They also worried that hackers could compromise the Oscar vote. On Dec. 26, I also spoke with an Academy spokesperson who told me most complaints about e-voting have stemmed from members “forgetting or misusing passwords.”
Members who signed up for e-voting after paying their dues in October received a voter identification number (or VIN) in the mail this month. They then had to create a voting password, distinct from their member password, that met very specific criteria: It must be no shorter than eight characters and no longer than 16; it must include at least one alpha and one numeric character; and it must include one special character, such as !, @, # or $. When they use it to try to log in to the voting site, though, there’s no way for them to see what they have entered, as is common on other sites.
Several members stressed that they carefully typed in their password three different times, were rejected each time and, after the third, were locked out of trying again until they contacted the toll-free help line. Some say they endured considerable wait times, only to be told that they could set a new password but would need to wait 24 hours for the password database to refresh before they could try again. (The Academy spokesperson says when members make changes between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. PT they will be updated by 6 p.m. PT, and when members make changes between 2 p.m. and 6am PST they will be updated by 9am PST the next morning.) “It’s easier to break into the CIA,” one member told me.