The Oscars and the Alternative Vote
Hollywood shows that electoral reform is not just for political anoraks.
This year, the Best Picture list was expanded, partly to make sure that at least a couple of blockbusters would be on it. (The biggest grosser of 2008, The Dark Knight, was one of the better Batman adventures, but it didn't make the cut.) To forestall a victory for some cinematic George Wallace or Ross Perot, the Academy switched to a different system. Members -- there are around 5,800 of them -- are being asked to rank their choices from one to ten. In the unlikely event that a picture gets an outright majority of first-choice votes, the counting's over. If not, the last-place finisher is dropped and its voters' second choices are distributed among the movies still in the running. If there's still no majority, the second-to-last-place finisher gets eliminated, and its voters' second (or third) choices are counted. And so on, until one of the nominees goes over 50 per cent.