As Academy members select the nominees for the 85th Oscars — phase one voting began Dec. 17 and will close Jan. 4 — they are feeling the impact of two major changes to the voting process that were implemented by the board of governors: Nomination ballots can be cast online, but the deadline to submit them has been moved up nine days. (That number was 10 days, but the Academy extended the voting deadline by 24 hours on Dec. 31.) These might not sound like earth-shattering developments, but they have significantly altered the balloting experience of the Academy’s roughly 5,700 voting members and also might impact the sorts of nominees those members select. The Hollywood Reporter first reported on this situationDec. 27 after reaching out to a considerable number of voters and spoke a whole new crop for this follow-up story — virtually none of whom had discussed e-voting publicly.
All members who opted to forsake a paper ballot in favor of an e-vote — a “great majority,” according to an Academy spokesperson — were asked to create a special password for the voting site that met highly specific criteria. When they went to log in to the site, though, many said their passwords were rejected, even though they made sure to enter them correctly. After three tries, they say, the site locked them out, and they were forced to call a helpline set up by the Academy to assist people experiencing problems. Some then were given another password but told they had to wait 24 hours before attempting to log in again; others were told they had to wait to receive a new password via snail mail.
“We have to balance the opposing needs of convenience and security,” an Academy spokesperson told THR, adding that most issues stemmed from members “forgetting or misusing passwords” and that intricate passwords are a necessary evil of e-voting.