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Last Minute-Oscar Voters Opt for Paper Ballots As Others Encounter E-Voting Snafus

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Several members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hand-delivered their Oscar ballots to the Academy's Beverly Hills headquarters late Friday afternoon in the hours before the 5 p.m. deadline for nominations balloting -- while others continued to experience online snafus as they tried the electronic voting system that the Academy is using for the first time this year.

“It’s definitely not smooth,” said one member, who declined to give his name, about the online e-voting process. Earlier this week, on Dec. 31, the Academy extended the nominations deadline by 24 hours because of problems some members were experiencing in adapting to e-voting. 

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The member had tried to log into the system early Friday afternoon but gave up when the system wouldn’t take his password. He then drove from his home in Santa Monica to the Academy’s headquarters on Wilshire Blvd to vote.

A handful of other members, witnessed by The Hollywood Reporter, also came to the AMPAS building to hand in a paper ballot or fill one out one on the premises after encountering technical issues with voter identification numbers and passwords not working.

Two members, including an Oscar-nominated editor, came in to use the voting kiosks located on the main level. Even there, the editor encountered log-in problems, requiring the help of two support technicians.

Another member, in this case an Oscar-winning screenwriter, allowed a THR reporter to listen in via speaker phone as he tried to cast his vote online. The writer waited until shortly before 4 p.m. PST to try to log in to the voting website, since he wanted to watch as many films as possible before voting. However, after logging in, he was prompted to click a button to be sent a subsequent log-in "member code" via a telephone call that was supposed to come within 15 minutes, but never came despite repeated calls from another phone line back to the voting helpline.

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"They just f***ed it up," the member said in frustration. 

It’s unclear how wide-spread such problems were, or if they may have lessened turnout in this round of voting. The Academy will announce nominations Jan. 10.

“I suspect a lot of people will skip this round but do the next one,” said the member who drove in from Santa Monica.

Rod McKuen, the 79-year old composer twice nominated for best original song, strolled up to the Academy headquarters envelope in hand to deposit his ballot, but it was not because he encountered any problems with the e-voting system. He simply chose to skip that option, having tried, and decided he disliked, e-voting last year when he had served on the Screen Actors Guild nominating committee.

“Thank God they let you do it this way,” he said, raising the paper ballot.