The Academy has told its members that the traditional paper Oscar ballots will soon be a thing of the past, replaced by voting done via email.
The move, which a letter to Academy members said could come as early as this year, is a necessary step if the Oscars are to be moved earlier than late February, a proposal that is currently under study by an Academy committee.
The letter asked the Academy's near-5,800 members to supply an email address that would not go through an assistant, and said "once the system is up and running, mailed ballots will be eliminated."
That could happen this year, it suggested, and will certainly be in place by the 2012 Oscar season.
Oscar voting has traditionally been done the old-fashioned way, with mailed ballots stacked and counted by hand by a small team from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Resistance to changing that system has focused on security concerns over online voting, and on questions about whether some Academy members are tech-savvy enough to adapt to a new system.
"We are trying to figure out how to take that voting process and do it electronically," Academy president Tom Sherak told TheWrap before this year's Oscar show. "We're working with a number of companies to see if we can figure it out … I'm still from the old school, but there could be a way."
Moving the Oscars to late January would likely require not only a faster voting process, but also a way to allow voters to see the eligible movies more easily, particularly in categories like Best Foreign-Language Film, where the vast majority of the more than five dozen nominees are not released theatrically.
Film Independent, whose executive director Dawn Hudson begins her new position as AMPAS CEO next month, explored using a live-streaming option to screen films for its Independent Spirit Awards voters, but could not find a secure way to accomplish that.
The news was first reported by the New York Times.
(Photo by AMPAS)