What the Oscars can teach us about how to run US political elections

The similarities between elections within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and U.S. politics are striking. However, the Academy is able to offer a major advantage in politics by being able to modify its rules to reflect 21st-century values and needs.

The Academy started changing its system to increase representation in the 1930s. It was first implemented. multi-winner ranked choice votingThis is sometimes called proportional ranked option voting. This system allows Academy members to rank up to five candidates within their respective categories. Directors rank candidates for Best Director. This system was extended in 2010 to select the winner of Best Picture.

By using RCV,  the vote stays in play even if one’s first choice is eliminated. “The move was made to prevent a film from winning with only, say, 12-15% of the vote; rather than simply counting No. 1 votes, the system uses a voter’s rankings to determine which nominee has the most widespread support,”Steve Pond explained it in.

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The Academy responded to criticisms about the Academy’s lack of diversity in its winners and leaders. Additional members(Expand the House, anyone?)), and ensured that 50% of these new members are women (gender targets, anyone?). The organization has also FurtherExpanded its use of ranked option voting (RCV), to its Board of Governors election (electoral Reform, anyone?). 

The Academy has reorganized its election system to elect its leadership. It is no longer using the two-round, expensive and time-consuming runoff elections. Dawn Hudson, Academy CEO, explained this in an email. “Not only will this avoid ties, and additional voting, but it will also provide you with more choices and allow you to rank your candidates in order of preference, like the voting method for Best Picture. This system of voting ensures that the winner has the approval of the most and the broadest range of voters and helps guarantee that the winning candidates are more fully representative of your branch membership’s voting…” 

And the award goes to…fair representation! 

Surprisingly, women grew to be more than 50% after the introduction of ranked choice voting. 61% of the Academuy’s Board of GovernorsAnd the proportion of racial minorities was up from 24% to 29%. There’s still a long way to go for people of color, but it’s good to see movement in the right direction. All of this was possible within the first few hours of using the new system. It’s clear that voters want more diversity and fair representation in their leadership. The Academy uses RCV because it’s common sense: It’s fair, and produces results that reflect actual preferences.

Cynthia Richie Terrell (director of RepresentWomen) is a long-standing advocate and supporter for reform in the election process. “It’s 2022 and the only woman presidents we’ve had are the ones played in TV shows and movies. Let’s take a lesson from our friends at the Academy of Motion Pictures and adopt ranked choice voting to elect an actual woman president.”

What the Oscars can teach us about how to run US political elections

This diorama of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences experience is a great example of what can Our U.S. electoral elections are open to all. This system works across the country. RepresentWomen’s RCV DashboardThis shows us that 43 jurisdictions across the country have moved to ranked voting and abandoned the winner-takes-all system. It also shows us that when voters’ power is strengthened, they vote for candidates who are women and people of color.

Last year, New York CityRCV was used for the first time during its mayoral election and its city council elections. Record-breaking results were achieved. New York City now has a first-ever majority-woman city council, with 81% of those women being women of color.

What the Oscars can teach us about how to run US political elections

As seen in New York’s Oscars and many other elections All over the globeWhen an electoral system allows voters to vote for themselves Real Without fear of losing their vote, preferences can be voted for (rather than the lesser evil of two evils). women win.

And this isn’t just about fairness. It is important to have representation because of the importance of gender balance and diversity in policy-making positions improves policy processes And Policies. Stefani Brown James from The Collective PAC , “For us to have a democracy that works for the people, it should be made up of the people. And most importantly, to change the laws so that they better reflect the needs of our communities, we need to change the lawmakers.” 

To change the laws, we must change the system that elects them.

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RepresentWomen’s strategic partnership manager Katie Usalis works to activate and equip changemakers to help solve the U.S. political representation crisis. As a structural catalyst to a more equal world, she is passionately involved in system reform to achieve gender equity in politics.

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