Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) had to extend its deadline for Oscar nominations, after outlets like The Hollywood Reporter spread the news of extensive difficulties with AMPAS' new online voting system.
Yes, Oscar has caught the dreaded Internet Voting disease, and it seems to be working out about as well as it did for Canada in 2012 and just slightly better (as far as we know) than it did for Washington D.C. back in 2010 or for Honolulu in 2009 (where the same company ran that particular Internet Voting disaster.)
From rejected passwords and missed deadlines to fears of system hacks and depressed participation, the whole thing has apparently been a colossal clusterfudge --- not to mention a chilling echo of the catastrophic insecurity of the American election system as a whole in the age of electronic balloting.
Of course, AMPAS should have known better when they hired the disastrous Everyone Counts outfit to run their Internet Voting scheme. But this would hardly be the first time the Academy swooned over the influence of a former Washington power broker. The revolving door between the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and Everyone Counts may finally be paying off for the Internet Voting democracy-be-damned company.
Making the situation even worse, AMPAS and its surrogates have attempted to recast the meltdown of their system as mere techno-confusion on the part of older Academy members, thus smearing anyone concerned for the legitimacy of this year's Oscar as a clueless adversary of "progress."
Watching this offensive and destructive meme take hold everywhere from Deadline Hollywood to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is a sobering reminder of how important it is to fight for paper balloting in every governmental contest in the nation, and how much P.R. firepower we'll have to overcome in the process.
Read my full story on the entire fine mess, posted at Orlando Weekly, right here. It starts this way:
UPDATE 1/12/13: It's official. The "baffling" nominations are now out and no one can ever know who really won this year's Oscars. Details now here...
Steve Schneider is an Orlando-based media critic who writes about the intersection of popular culture and public policy. He holds a master's degree in Media, Culture & Communication from New York University. Read his blog, "Vision Thing", at Orlando Weekly and follow him on Twitter: @Schneider_Stv.