Mysteries of the new Emmy voting process explained

Now that Emmy voting is about to start, let’s clear up some of the confusion surrounding new changes in the balloting process.

John Leverence, the Television Academy’s VP of Awards, tells Gold Derby: “All voters eligible to vote in a category’s nominating round are now eligible to vote in that category’s final round, so long as they meet two additional requirements:  much like the former Blue Ribbon Panel process, voters must watch the required amount of submitted material online and attest to no specific conflicts of interest with the nominees.”

In past years, voters watched DVDs of the nominees’ work and their ballot participation was restricted. Academy members could vote in two peer-group categories and two program races, but now they may vote in as many as they like as long as the categories are within their peer group (or best program) and they watch the required video before casting ballots.

The academy is striving to increase voter participation.

“When we went from the hotel judging to the at-home judging, we significantly increased the number of voters,” Leverence adds. “It was better customer service. The feedback from last year’s voters – who like all television viewers are increasingly gravitating to digital and mobile viewing – was overwhelmingly in favor of extending the entire process to online viewing and voting.  We anticipate a further significant increase in voter participation.”

There are no big changes in the first round of voting, which is still conducted using a popular ballot except in rare categories like music and choreography, which are determined by screening panels. All academy members can vote in all big program races like Best Comedy and Drama Series, but not in the contests for documentary/nonfiction programs and animated TV shows.

When picking nominees, voters follow the same procedure as last year: they check off 10 favorites for best programs. There will be seven nominees for Best Comedy and Drama Series instead of six. In the acting, writing and directing categories, they list five or six choices depending on the corresponding number of nominees, but they do not rank according to favorites as they do when choosing winners.

During the second round of voting, nominees for best acting will submit a sample episode of their best work from the past TV season, as they’ve done in the past. In the races for Best Drama and Comedy Series, there is a slight change. “Each nominated series will submit their choice of six episodes, all of which will be posted online,” Leverence says. In past years, the six episodes were split up into three pairs that were randomly submitted to voters on DVDs.

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