Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. See main page for full contents

September 17, 2009


Rob Richie, Huffington Post - The Oscar for best picture will be selected by instant runoff voting (also called "preferential voting" and "ranked choice voting"). The Academy of Motion Pictures has used the choice voting method of proportional representation for nominating best picture and most other categories since the 1930s. It's helped ensure nearly all members feel invested in the outcome on Oscar night, as they're very likely to have had one of their favorites earn a nomination.

For a several years before1945, the Academy also used the ranked voting method of instant runoff voting for best picture, selecting such classics as Casablanca and Gone with the Wind. But it switched to plurality voting (the way we elect more offices in our current elections), apparently because it can make Oscar night more surprising by encouraging upsets -- favored films can "split the vote" and allow another nominee to win with as little as 21% support.

But with its decision this year to nominate ten motion pictures in 2010, the Academy decided that it was time to go back to instant runoff voting. It will ensure winners will need to have a lot of Academy voters who want it as their first choice, as with plurality voting, but also upholds the principle of majority rule by avoiding split votes and "spoilers."


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