The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ran into some well-publicized growing pains in launching the first year of online voting for Oscars last year. It has taken internal complaints and problems into consideration and now is making key changes to the system that confused many members and resulted in a shaky launch. An email is going out today and Monday (read it below) will tell members to register online for what has been described as an “upgraded and simplified” system. Immediate registration will be possible after a member pays their annual dues — which also can be done online. The Academy is urging members to consider using the online option when voting this year although for those who would rather stick with the old-fashioned method a paper ballot will still be available. The Academy though really plans on selling the online option, and believes the long-gestating switch and the attendant publicity resulted in what its says was the highest voter turnout ever last season.

I am told the Academy believes it has fixed the key components of the system that caused so many problems — and have done it without compromising security, a major factor in any overhaul. The key update is there will now be only one user name and one password required for the entire season both for membership and voting purposes. Previously, there were separate passwords members had to use and a more complicated system of checks and balances.  ow voters also won’t have to keep re-entering VIN numbers, and should the need come to change their password it will be done with an immediate prompt online with no need to contact the support system, which is something many members had to do often last year after throwing up their hands in frustration. The site has also been designed graphically for much easier navigation.

Will this answer all the complaints we heard from confused Academy members last year? Time will tell, but I am told the Academy believes it has really streamlined things, and hope and expect most members to embrace online voting in its sophomore season. It all begins again now, folks.

Here’s that letter going out to members:

Dear XXX,

­Starting on Monday, you will have the opportunity to log in to the member site and pay your Academy dues.

When you do, we encourage you to register to vote for the Oscars by selecting either online voting or a paper ballot.

As you know, our online voting system was one of the key reasons for our record voter turnout last year.

And over the last eight months, we’ve simplified the process. We listened to your feedback, and we improved the user experience without lowering the bar on security.  Some of the highlights are:

  • The same username and password will be used for the member site and to vote
  • Members will no longer need to type in a VIN to vote
  • Password changes will occur in real time

Online voting is convenient and easy to use – allowing you to vote from anywhere in the world and on any internet platform, whether you’re on location, in the office, or on vacation.

Please remember that prior to voting for the 86th Academy Awards, you will need to have paid your dues in full.  Voting starts in two months.

We look forward to an exciting Oscar season, and we’re thrilled that you’re a part of it.

All best,