Can I vote for the Oscars?

How many times have you found yourself savagely throwing your pizza rolls at the TV while watching the Academy Awards? You may have even murmured aloud, “These fools need my help! Can I vote for the Oscars and fix this mess?” You’re not alone.

In the past several years the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has added thousands of people to their voting membership, many of them women and people of color, in order to become more relevant to today’s world. But, sadly, unless you work in the movie industry and know two members who can sponsor you, you’re out of luck. (There’s always the People’s Choice Awards.)

Per the academy website, membership is limited to “film artists working in the production of theatrically-released motion pictures.” There are 17 separate branches within the academy where potential voters can apply — everything from actors and writers to the below-the-line crafts. There is also a “Members-at-Large” category that accommodates folks who work in some form of production but don’t necessarily fit into one of the branches.

The key to becoming a member is that the process is by sponsorship, not application. What does that mean? Candidates must find two people to vouch for them who are already members of the specific branch they wish to join. One caveat to this rule is that Oscar nominees are automatically considered for membership and don’t need to go through the sponsorship process.

What happens next? Here’s the fine print: “Nominees and sponsored candidates are reviewed by branch committees and recommendations for membership are considered by the Academy’s Board of Governors. The Board decides which individuals will receive invitations. Membership review takes place once a year, in the spring.”

AMPAS warns potential sponsors that their job of vouching for an up-and-coming member is a serious deal. “Please make sure you are confident the candidate has truly demonstrated exceptional achievement in the field of theatrical motion pictures before you agree to sponsor an individual,” the organization explains.

Finally, current members are only allowed to sponsor a single candidate per cycle. That’s no doubt to prevent people from stacking the voting field with hundreds of their friends — we’re looking at you, Meryl Streep!

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