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Oscars Change Rules to Streamline Board of Governors Election

Instead of a runoff election in each branch, the preferential system will be used to determine winners after a single round of voting


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has streamlined voting in the June election of its Board of Governors, eliminating a runoff round and instituting the same preferential system used to determine the Oscar winner for Best Picture.

Members of the Academy learned of the changes in an early-May email from AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson. An Academy spokesperson confirmed the new rules to TheWrap.

Until now, governors were elected in a two-step process, the first of which determined four finalists in each of the Academy’s 17 branches. A second round then determined a winner from the four finalists.

Under the new system, a single round of voting will take place in early June, with all members of each branch eligible to run for a seat on the board. Rather than a first round of voting producing a group of finalists, the preferential system – which is also called ranked-choice, or instant-runoff voting – will narrow the field down until a single consensus choice remains.

While most Academy members do not appear to understand the system in the way it is used to produce Oscar nominees and Best Picture winners, it is a highly effective way of allowing voters to cast ballots for their true favorites without worrying about wasting a vote if their first choice falls out of the running.

The question is whether the streamlined system will have any effect on the recent voting patterns. For many years, incumbents have almost always won re-election to the board, even after the board came under fire for its ill-considered attempts to revamp the Oscar show.

Each of the Academy’s branches is represented by three governors, who serve staggered three-year terms. Every year, one seat in each branch is up for election. Governors up for re-election this year include Whoopi Goldberg in the Actors Branch, Kimberly Peirce in the Directors Branch, Albert Berger in the Producers Branch and Larry Karaszewski in the Writers Branch.

Here is the partial text of Dawn Hudson’s email to the members announcing the changes:

Like all of us, the Academy has had to adjust and adapt to the changing environment amid the COVID-19 crisis. With this in mind, we have pushed the dates for the upcoming Board of Governors and Branch Executive Committee elections and made some modifications to make the voting process easier for you.

In an effort to be more streamlined, and offer you a more efficient and less time-consuming process, we will have an opt-in period from Monday, May 18 at 9 a.m. PT to Friday, May 22 at 5 p.m. PT, and then go directly to final voting for each branch from Monday, June 1 at 9 a.m. PT to Friday, June 5 at 5 p.m. PT.

In addition, the Board of Governors has decided to make the voting system preferential. Not only will this avoid ties, and additional voting, but it will also provide you with more choices and allow you to rank your candidates in order of preference, like the voting method for Best Picture. This system of voting ensures that the winner has the approval of the most and the broadest range of voters and helps guarantee that the winning candidates are more fully representative of your branch membership’s voting …

As always, we look forward to – and greatly encourage – your participation in voting. It’s a critical part of being an Academy member. We want to ensure that our almost 100-year-old organization continues to meet the challenges of these times and that we plan ahead for a continued bright future.