PETE HAMMOND: Oscars Move Closer To Voting Change?

This is either every Oscar voter’s worst nightmare or the Academy’s savior. Either way it’s going to change the Academy Awards process forever. Oscar’s move to online voting was off and running when the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences had a very impressive 83% of the membership return cards requesting their email addresss — the first step to online voting. Other guilds and voting orgs have already done this. But everything moves slower at the venerable AMPAS. And it is also a first step toward potentially moving up the Oscar telecast earlier in the season to the end of January or beginning of February. An expedited voting process would certainly help make that difficult prospect easier to pull off. But one concern is that Hollywood’s highest-profile awards show may provide an irresistible target for hackers — ergo, the long search for a firm capable of an uncompromised voting system:

Beverly Hills, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has entered into an agreement with Everyone Counts Inc. to exclusively develop an electronic voting system for the 85th Academy Awards®, to be held in 2013.

Everyone Counts will work with PwC, the Academy’s accounting firm of record, whose role in tabulating Academy members’ votes will remain unchanged. Over the next year, the Academy will undertake a rigorous security and user-acceptance testing process.

“This is the first of many steps that we’ll be taking toward developing a secure and convenient electronic voting system, beginning with next year’s ballot,” said Academy Chief Operating Officer Ric Robertson. “We’re excited to have found great partners in the people who do this best.”

The selection of Everyone Counts is the result of an 18-month search conducted by the Academy. The company is internationally recognized for its expertise in election administration and computer security and its voting platform is a global leader in the election industry. Built into its technology and processes are multiple layers of security that include military-grade encryption techniques. The company’s other clients include the United States Department of Defense; the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice; the state of New South Wales, Australia; and the states of Oregon, Florida, and Washington.

“We are honored to have earned the trust of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in bringing online voting to the Oscars starting next year,” said Lori Steele, Chairman and CEO of Everyone Counts Inc. “Our company was founded to set a new standard of security, accessibility, and transparency in elections. We’re proud to be working with the Academy, an organization that also represents the highest standards in its field.”

“We look forward to working with Everyone Counts for next year’s 85th Academy Awards and beyond,” said Brad Oltmanns, balloting leader, PwC. “We are excited about the new electronic voting system, which will enable us to conduct the tabulation process with the same high level of precision, trust and integrity that we have for the past 78 years.”

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