A Timely Quote: How American Idol is like IRV:Voting on American Idol is not something I take very seriously. I always wondered why anyone in the election reform biz would ever hold up a show like 'American Idol' as an example of good elections. But then again, this is from a group that uses examples of voting for flavors in ice cream socials as a reason why we should use IRV in big-people elections for stuff that matters a whole lot more than what flavor of ice cream you get to eat.
"Despite never having been among the bottom-three vote-getters this season, Danny [Gokey] wound up on the short end of 88 million votes Wednesday night, which eliminated him from the competition. With only a million votes separating Kris and Adam this week, Danny's sizable voting bloc could still influence the outcome. Will his supporters throw their weight behind dark-horse-turned-contender Kris? Or will they stay away from the phones? The answer to that question could determine your next American Idol." - Brian Mansfield, in May 14 story for USA Today, "'American Idol': Danny voted off; Kris and Adam are final 2."
I fell asleep with the TV on (MSNBC) and I awoke this morning to a little something about how AT&A May Have Swayed 'Idol" Results - they are even talking about it on "Morning Joe" where they admit to not understanding exactly how this could happen. Wonder how they feel about IRV? ;-)
So I googled "AT&T tainted American Idol vote" and ironically I got an article in The Huffington Post (the same place that posted Rob's crowing about IRV) "AT&T May Have Swayed 'Idol' Results":
So I went to the article in the NY Times:
New York Times:
AT&T, one of the biggest corporate sponsors of "American Idol," might have influenced the outcome of this year's competition by providing phones for free text-messaging services and lessons in casting blocks of votes at parties organized by fans of Kris Allen, the Arkansas singer who was the winner of the show last week
May 27, 2009So American Idol voting was capable of being influenced by a group that engaged in voter education, and that controls both the counting and casting of votes.
AT&T May Have Swayed ‘Idol’ Results
By EDWARD WYATT
LOS ANGELES — AT&T, one of the biggest corporate sponsors of “American Idol,” might have influenced the outcome of this year’s competition by providing phones for free text-messaging services and lessons in casting blocks of votes at parties organized by fans of Kris Allen, the Arkansas singer who was the winner of the show last week.
Representatives of AT&T, whose mobile phone network is the only one that can be used to cast “American Idol” votes via text message, provided the free text-messaging services at two parties in Arkansas after the final performance episode of “American Idol” last week, according to the company and people at the events.
There appear to have been no similar efforts to provide free texting services to supporters of Adam Lambert, who finished as the runner-up to Mr. Allen.
Since then, angry supporters of Mr. Lambert have flooded online chat boards with messages claiming irregularities in the competition’s voting.
Officials of Fox Broadcasting declined to discuss the situation. In a statement issued Tuesday, a spokesman for AT&T said, “In Arkansas, we were invited to attend the local watch parties organized by the community. A few local employees brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested.”
Details of the voting support were first reported last week in an article in The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Representatives of AT&T helped fans of Mr. Allen at the two Arkansas events by providing instructions on how to send 10 or more text messages at the press of a single button, known as power texts. Power texts have an exponentially greater effect on voting than do single text messages or calls to the show’s toll-free phone lines. The efforts appear to run afoul of “American Idol” voting rules in two ways. The show broadcasts an on-screen statement at the end of each episode warning that blocks of votes cast using “technical enhancements” that unfairly influence the outcome of voting can be thrown out.
And the show regularly states that text voting is open only to AT&T subscribers and is subject to normal rates.
I guess Rob was right - American Idol is like IRV. Timely indeed!