The Academy will mail final ballots for the 84th Awards on February 1 to 5,783 voting members. The completed ballots are due at 5 PM February 21. Most members–whether in London, New York or Borneo–will anxiously mail their ballots or, if they are in Los Angeles, walk them into PricewaterhouseCooper’s offices. After tabulating the votes, PricewaterhouseCoopers will place winners’ names in the sealed envelopes that are opened on the Oscar show February 26. This seems positively archaic in the digital age. Why can’t Academy voting take place online? The Broadcast Film Critics, the Canadian Genies, BAFTA and others do it that way. Academy president Tom Sherak told TOH last year that the Academy starting considering electronic ballots because they wanted to move up the Awards date: online voting was a prerequisite of making that happen. But Sherak was afraid that the Oscars offered a fat juicy target. “I’ve yet to be convinced that you couldn’t find someone to hack into it,” he said. “Nobody has said to me, ‘you can’t get in.’ The Academy is as pure as the driven snow.” Until Sherak was convinced that no one could influence the voting by hacking into an online voting system, he was sticking with paper ballots, he said. “They can hack into the Pentagon!” he says. “The chances of getting online ballots are slim to none.”
Well, what a difference a year and new Academy chief Dawn Hudson makes. The 2013 Academy Awards are already making news, with the Academy announcing that is partnering with Everyone Counts to develop an electronic voting system for next year’s Oscars. PwC, the accounting firm responsible for tabulating and authenticating the Academy’s votes will continue to do so, but for the first time, Academy members will not receive a paper ballot next year to cast their votes.
The Academy first informed its voters last May that it would be transitioning to a vote-by-email platform. In that letter, the Academy asked its members to provide an email address that did not go through an assistant and informed them that once the system was up, they would receive only an electronic ballot at that address. In July of 2011, Deadline’s Pete Hammond reported that an impressive 83 percent of the Academy had responded to the request for private email addresses.