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And the Oscar goes to?Proportional Voting Systems

by Dalila Harrag // Published January 23, 2009

2009 can be the year of awarding, once again, French language performances. The 5 nominees for each of the 25 categories have been announced on January 22nd and everyone is excited (or should be) to see "the Class" ("Entre les murs") winning the Oscar for the best foreign language film of the year.

Nevertheless, the ceremony of the 81st Academy Awards should not be only seen from a cultural point of view but also from a political one. Indeed, the Academy Awards uses a proportional voting system to select nominees, called choice voting, which is considered one of the best and fairest electoral systems. Choice voting provides an accurate reflection of voter preferences while also embodies democratic values. In this case, choice voting has been used by the Academy Awards since 1930's to elect the five potential nominees of each 25 categories, so it can reflect the diverse spectrum of film and artists but also the different choices of the 6,000 voting members.

Although each member has only one vote, they are not limited to voting for only one option. With choice voting, eligible members of the Academy rank their top candidates to be considered for an Oscar in order of preference. So that no vote is wasted, if someone's favorite nominee has the fewest votes and is eliminated, the vote counts toward the second choice. Conversely, if a voter's favorite nominee has already enough votes to be elected, surplus votes are transferred to next viable candidate.

So, from the red carpets to elections around the world, choice voting is used to avoid disproportionate outcomes and to ensure the most diverse and reflective results. Thus, full representation and proportional voting systems need to be extended to a broader range of elections- political, corporate, cultural ones - to provide for fair, legitimate and representative results.

To read more about choice voting and the Oscars, please click here. For more information on the Rules and Eligibility of the Academy Awards please visit: Academy Award Rules, Oscar's rules of enragement.