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The Oscars Use a More Fair Voting System Than Most of America Does

Since 2009, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has used ranked-choice voting to select winners in each category


"Will Best Picture go to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri or The Shape of Water?"  (Photo: Craig Piersma/flickr/cc)

The 90th Academy Awards brings with it anticipation from movie fans about who will come out on top.

Will Best Picture go to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri or The Shape of Water? Will comic genius Jordan Peele take home an Oscar on Sunday for his original screenplay for Get Out, or does that distinction belong to Kumail Nanjiani, who could be the first Pakistani-American to win in the category for co-writing The Big Sick with his wife Emily Gordon?

But to political science nerds—and really, anyone who wants to see a more fair and representative voting system—the system that produces these Oscar wins is just as interesting.

Since 2009, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has used ranked-choice voting, or RCV, to select Oscar winners in each category.

Nearly 8,500 voters select the nominees and the winners at the award show. These voters are drawn from various sectors of film production—from actors to various levels of producers. After coming under fire for the relative homogeneity of the voting population, the Academy has boosted its membership in recent years, with an emphasis on inviting more women and ethnic minorities into its fold.

Unlike traditional first-past-the-post voting systems—in which the candidate with the biggest number of votes takes home the gold—under RCV, voters rank candidates on their ballot instead of voting for just one. If no one gets a majority of votes in the first round, next-preference votes are counted until a candidate gets most of the votes.

Read the full article, with possible updates, at The Intercept.

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