An Oscar Performance: Blame the Customers and Users.

Wired: E-Voting Snafu Pushes Back Oscar Nomination Deadline <read>

This year, Oscar voters are getting a deadline extension, giving members an extra day to vote on the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards after technical issues plagued the first attempt by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to allow online voting.

The Academy announced in early 2012 that it would be making e-voting available to members, and as is often then case in the move from analog to digital, the transition to the new voting platform hasn’t been without hiccups. In a recent Hollywood Reporter analysis, many Academy voters complained of issues with logging in to the voting site — something an Academy representative attributed to voters “forgetting or misusing passwords” – difficulty navigating the site once they were logged in, and even the potential for hackers to infiltrate the website and influence the vote.

“They should have had more lead time than, ‘Here you go; this is what we are expecting now,’” one Academy voter told THR. “We’re talking about many elderly people who are not that computer literate. They might think that it’s simple, but the simplest thing isn’t simple to many people…. There will probably be a large percentage of people who will just say, ‘Screw it’ and not even vote this year.”
Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock tweeted just last week that “the password they sent didn’t work for my log in – and they couldn’t e-mail me a new log in, only snail mail.” Some even called it a “disaster” and expressed worry that the website would be susceptible to hacking. Others worried that frustrations with the new system could lead to low voter turnout.

Unprofessional systems “professionals” often resort to blaming the users for systems that are difficult to understand and use. Similarly, software vendors blame their customers for the inadequacies of the systems they have sold to or implemented for those customers.

However, Lori Steele, the CEO of the company that developed the electronic voting system for the Academy, said that despite those reports, the majority of the feedback her firm Everyone Counts had received was positive and that voters had access to a 24-hour telephone support line and assisted voting stations in Los Angeles, New York and London. She also added that the deadline extension was the result of the Academy simply wanting to give voters more time and not because of any particular issue with the e-voting site.

“Voting through our platform has gotten really rave reviews from most members and the user experience went through multiple levels of user testing with members and the satisfaction rate is extremely high,” Steele said in an interview with Wired. “There have been some issues — as you’ve read — with passwords and that simply means the system is working, so those wouldn’t be the reasons that this would be extended.”

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