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.
From the start, there have been concerns about electronic Oscar voting, not only in terms of the security of an online ballot, but also whether all Academy members would be tech-savvy enough to utilize the new system.
Many of the other guild awards already use electronic voting with few or no problems. Of course, the Oscars are the highest profile awards show, and thus the most vulnerable to hackers or pranksters looking to make a mark. The Academy selected Everyone Counts for its online voting in part because of its security practices, which include the use of military-grade encryption.
This decision to change the voting system is an inevitable part of the larger plan to move the Oscars to late January. That date change would pose numerous challenges, among them the issue of getting ballots to and from voters in a much shorter window of time than the one provided by the current system. If the Oscars moved forward in the awards season, there could be quite a shake-up with the other guilds. For now though, they'll have until 2013 to figure it out.