Emmy voting 101: How winners are determined

Unlike the Academy Awards where all 5,800 motion picture academy members can vote for most of the competitive categories, Emmys winners are decided by just a portion of the 16,000 strong TV academy. 


Members may judge up to five categories: two program awards and three more races within their peer group (e.g., acting, directing, writing). Most of those who take part opt to sit on only one or two panels. They must watch videos submitted by all nominees in a given category before filling in their ballots.

Acting nominees pick one episode as a sample of their best work. Producers of drama and comedy series nominees select six episodes which are broken into three pairings of two episodes that are distributed randomly.

Gold Derby is compiling lists of episodes which can be seen by clicking the categories below

 Comedy Acting Categories   Comedy Series
 Drama Acting Categories  Drama Series 


From 50 to 75 members of the acting branch decide each acting category. And between 750 and 900 members vote for Best Comedy and Drama Series with three groups of 250 to 300 viewing two episodes of each nominee.

Voters rank the nominees on their ballot from 1 (highest) to 5, 6 or 7 (lowest) depending on the total number in the category. They must also sign an affidavit attesting that they watched all the episodes and mail both in a sealed envelope to Ernst & Young.

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These accountants tally up the rankings, with the Emmy going to the nominee with the lowest score. If there’s a tie, then the nominee with the most number 1 votes wins. If the tie continues, then the nominee with the most number 2 votes prevails, etc. 

With such small numbers of voters for the acting races, each number one vote is vitally important. Consider the case of Comedy Actress where there are seven nominees. Assuming that 75 members of the acting branch take part, an actress could win with as a few as 12 number one votes (with three of the others earning 11 and the other three 10 each.)

Below is the calendar of events that take place as part of this process. 

Week of August 6
Creative Arts Awards: At-home judging DVDs mailed

Week of August 13
Telecast Awards: At-home judging DVDs mailed

August 24, 5:00 PM
Creative Arts Awards: Deadline for returning ballots 

August 31, 5:00 PM
Telecast Awards: Deadline for returning ballots 

September 15
Creative Arts Awards and Ball

September 23
ABC telecast and Governors Ball


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