Behind the scenes: Counting Oscar ballots

As final Oscar ballots were mailed out to the 5,783 members of the Academy on Wednesday, Friday marks the first day that they might be returned to PricewaterhouseCoopers. The deadline is Feb. 21 at 5 pm and it will take PwC suits three days to tally the votes. 

The firm is marking its 78th year as the official accountants of the Academy Awards. Only two men — Brad Oltmanns (right) and Rick Rosas (left) — will know the results of the 24 competitive races before they are revealed during the Oscars telecast on Feb. 26.

PwC prepares two briefcases with a complete set of envelopes with the winners’ names that arrive at the ceremony via separate, secret routes with each of them. They also memorize the names of the winners. At the show, the pair hand each envelope to the presenters just before they walk onstage.

As PwC notes, “they lead a tight-lipped team to conduct the same ‘tried and true’ method that they have used for decades. PwC’s long-established balloting system involves the precise tallying of every single ballot at a concealed location to maintain the utmost level of accuracy, objectivity and confidentiality.”

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For academy president Tom Sherak, “Our long-standing, 78-year relationship with PwC is built on the utmost trust and integrity. We look forward to continuing the tradition with PwC as our balloting partner for many years to come.”

Rosas, a PwC partner who has lead the balloting team since 2001, said, “Being involved each year in maintaining the highest level of secrecy is one of the most rewarding assignments of my career. Our work with the Academy not only highlights our long-term and trusted relationship with Hollywood and the entertainment industry, but also serves as an incredible source of honor and pride for PwC.”


And Oltmanns, a PwC partner who has been a team leader since 2004, added, “PwC’s ongoing relationship with the Academy exemplifies the highest level of precision and trust. This is an event we look forward to every year and our precise work with the Academy through the years is a tribute to PwC’s renowned heritage and reputation.”

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