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E-Vote Hiccups Delay Oscar Balloting

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Voting for this year's Oscar nominations was supposed to have closed today — but it's been bumped a day, in the wake of complaints about the new online voting system put in place by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Hollywood Reporter analyst Scott Feinberg tells NPR's Audie Cornish that the system was supposed to make life easier for academy members.

"Going to e-voting would allow voters to vote from anywhere in the world, if they're on vacation or whatever during the holidays, and just make the process itself more streamlined and efficient."

But in recent weeks, murmurs of discontent began to be heard.

"About a week or 10 days ago, I began reaching out to a considerable number of members," he says. "What members of all ages were finding was they were having problems navigating the system — in particular, oddly enough, just logging in."

Feinberg says one early possible culprit was the intricate passwords the academy system required.

"The stereotype of the academy member is that they're elderly, and maybe not the most tech-savvy people," he says. "And there are certainly plenty of those in the academy, among the 6,000 or so members. But this problem has been felt by members in their 30s, 40s, 50s who I spoke with. So my strong sense is that it's more just a glitch in the system."

Other awards organizations, including the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the Screen Actors Guild, use e-voting systems, but Feinberg points out that Oscar organizers see their process as a prime target for hackers.

"So in order to guard against that ... they've tried to create a system that is secure. But as their spokesperson told us, there's challenges: You can't have total convenience or total security. You have to find a middle ground."

The academy has sent paper ballots to members who've requested them. But Feinberg says there are real concerns among members that the e-voting hurdles will prompt some exasperated members to throw up their hands and opt out. That could affect what movies get nominated — and which ones win.

"There's concern that voter participation could be down a lot this year," he says. "The academy says voting patterns are consistent with what they've been in years past, but I don't know that they would have extended their deadline unless they saw that there was some sort of an issue."

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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