Film Academy Changes Voting Method to Determine Governors for Its Board (Exclusive)

The 'final four' stage of the process has been eliminated from — and a preferential ballot has been introduced to — the process.
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills

It turns out that March Madness' Final Four is not the only one canceled in 2020.

The board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided to eliminate — at least for this year — the 'Final Four' stage of its annual board elections, and to begin using a preferential ballot — just like the one used to determine the best picture Oscar — to pick board members, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The Academy's board consists of 54 governors, three representing each of the organization's 17 branches (who are elected to three-year terms that are staggered so that one seat comes open every three years), plus three governors-at-large (who are appointed by the president to one three-year term).

Every year, all Academy members are invited to toss their hat into the ring for their branch's seat. In years past, those names were then presented to the members of the branch, who voted to determine which candidates — four, or fewer if fewer entered — would advance to a second round of voting, at which point they would vote again to pick one new governor.

(Last year, two branches attracted fewer than four candidates — costume designers, with two, and production designers, with one. Most branches, however, drew many more — producers had the most, with 20, followed by actors, with 17.)

Earlier this year, though, the Academy's board decided to eliminate that middle step, a decision that Academy CEO Dawn Hudson notified members about via email on May 6, saying the board's desire was to make board voting "more streamlined" and "less time-consuming" during the pandemic.

All members were, as usual, invited to enter the race — they had to do so between May 18 and May 22 — and were informed that the next ballot they would see would list all of the entrants and would be the only ballot they would have to fill out this year. Indeed, from June 1 through June 5, members will be able to log in to the Academy's website and see those names.

The other big change that Hudson announced is that members will no longer be asked to support just one candidate. Instead, they will be asked to vote using the same sort of preferential ballot that is employed to determine the winner of the best picture Oscar. "Not only will this avoid ties and additional voting," she wrote, "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 memberships' voting."

The winning candidates will be announced later in June.