12:43pm PT by Gregg Kilday
Academy Moves Toward Electronic Voting in 2013
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is taking a major step toward moving toward an electronic voting system by entering into an agreement with a company that specializes in election administration and voting computer security.
The Academy announced Wednesday that it has contracted with Everyone Counts to exclusively develop an electronic voting system for the 85th Academy Awards that will be held in 2013.
Shifting to an electronic voting system would also allow the Academy to move the annual awards to an earlier date on the calendar, a move favored by some members of the Academy.
It was not immediably clear if the Academy plans to drop its traditional paper ballot system next year, or if next year’s vote could employ a mix of electronic and paper balloting. An Academy spokesperson said, "We're working on the specific details. However, the Academy will ensure each voting member has an opportunity to participate fully in the process."
Everyone Counts will work with PwC, the Academy's accounting firm whose role in tabulating votes will remain unchanged. During the next year, the Academy will undertake a rigorous security and user-acceptance testing process, the Academy said.
"This is the first of many steps that we'll be taking toward developing a secure and convenient electronic voting system, beginning with next year's ballot," said Academy chief operating officer Ric Robertson. "We're excited to have found great partners in the people who do this best."
The selection of Everyone Counts is the result of an 18-month search conducted by the Academy. The company is internationally recognized for its expertise in election administration and computer security. Built into its technology and processes are multiple layers of security that include military-grade encryption techniques. The company's other clients include the U.S. Department of Defense; the U.K.'s Ministry of Justice; New South Wales, Australia; and the states of Oregon, Florida and Washington.
"We are honored to have earned the trust of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in bringing online voting to the Oscars starting next year," said Lori Steele, chairman and CEO of Everyone Counts. "Our company was founded to set a new standard of security, accessibility and transparency in elections. We're proud to be working with the Academy, an organization that also represents the highest standards in its field."
"We look forward to working with Everyone Counts for next year's 85th Academy Awards and beyond," said Brad Oltmanns, balloting leader, PwC. "We are excited about the new electronic voting system, which will enable us to conduct the tabulation process with the same high level of precision, trust and integrity that we have for the past 78 years."