Singing Chad


Forget the Florida recount (both in 2000 and the inevitable sequel later this year). The country's biggest voting scandal involves American Idol, says Broadcasting & Cable:

American Idol, the wildly successful talent show based on the democratic premise that viewers cast ballots for a winner, has a serious voting problem. Interviews with telephone companies, data consultants, federal agencies, and fans expose a flawed system in which tens of millions of votes are potentially lost. Indeed, evidence shows that the only people choosing the next American Idol are the ones lucky enough to get through?or skilled enough to get around?tremendously overtaxed phone lines.

While overzealous fans have accused Fox of tampering with results, one fact is indisputable: Technology is thwarting democracy on American Idol. Power-dialers can skew the vote. Text-messagers have an unfair advantage. And potential hackers have a powerful new incentive to alter the vote tallies: betting on the outcome through Internet gambling sites. Despite fans' repeated accusations of inaccurate results, Fox is sticking with a voting system vulnerable to serious manipulation and tampering.

Certainly something has to explain the way the votes have gone this season. It couldn't simply be the tuneless taste–or the predilections of presumably highly motivated teen-girl viewers–could it?

NEXT: And I Know Another Wonk Couldn't Handle It

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  1. some people entertain themselves pontificating over libertarian ideas that never have and never will affect the world, and some people relax to american idol. so, it’s all good.

  2. I don’t understanding why the phone-jamming doesn’t work equally against all contenstants.

  3. I hope Bobby Sherman wins!

  4. And here I thought it was a combination of speed dialers in Hawaii and terminally tasteless Mainlanders ala Mencken’s definition.

  5. Jury,
    Assuming gamblers contributed to the cause…
    Less talent equals higher odds in gambling houses (online and offline). Higher odds might be something like 20 to 1 (20-1). This means for every dollar you bet you get 20 in return.

    Given a near a 2000% return it stands to reason some effort would be put into getting a few automatic dialers (hundreds?) to repeatedly dial the number of their favorite talentless contestant. Of course not every phone call from the dialers would go through but enough to lock out the arthritic blue-rinse crowd from getting a single vote in.

    I thought it was the blue-rinse crowd that kept the non-threatening Jon Stevens in for so long but maybe cut-throat gamblers did.

  6. Okay, I’ll be the first phony-intellectual-above-all-this-pop-culture-nonsense type to say it: What is this American Idol you speak of? Please enlighten me as I don’t own a television.

  7. It is part of a vast right wing conspiracy to disenfranchise American voters. Not too surprising fox is in on it.

  8. also: Hawaii has a later time zone and gets to vote when the lines are clearer than in the mainland. Therefore, they get more votes in for the effort.

  9. I think this safely qualifies as a “who cares?”

  10. Anything that gives the average citizen a clue about the dangers of electronic voting is a’ight with me, dawg.

  11. When anyone mentions the dangers of electronic voting, I hasten to remind them of the greater dangers of non-electronic voting.

    Non-electronic voting systems have been cheated for years, both in the U.S. and globally.

    Electronic voting systems, although not without problems, are the best hope for accurate voting results in the future.

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