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And the Emmy for best vote counter goes to ...

August 26, 2010 |  9:52 am


It's crunch time for Andy Sale. The Ernst & Young LLP partner is the man in charge of counting all the votes for Sunday's prime-time Emmy Awards, and at this moment he and his team are checking ballots and making sure everything adds up.

It's not as easy as it sounds. Between the elections for nominations and awards, Sale figures he touches 20,000 pieces of paper. He probably goes through a lot of Purell too.

"I’m the guy in our office who can claim the most mail coming in with his name on it," Sale cracked in a recent interview from Ernst & Young's Los Angeles branch.

Sale has been overseeing the voting for the Emmys for the last 10 years, and Ernst & Young has been handling this account for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for more than 20 years. It's a little more complex then writing the results down on a big chalk board. First the votes are scanned and then hand-counted. To ensure that no vote counters play favorites, the ballots are coded. The people doing the tabulating are sorting by code, not by a name of a show or a performer and only a select few know what letter or number stands for what actor or program.

"We do that so that at the end of the process there are only  a few of us who know who the winners are," Sale said.

There is a big difference though in voting for an Emmy winner and voting for a politician. If for some reason Sale and his team can't figure out what an Academy member was voting for, they will in most cases go back to that person and offer a do-over.

"Our intention is to err on the side of inclusion," Sale said, adding that he rarely has more than 10 ballots that need to be double checked with voters.

While Sale doesn't get much rest this time of year, he will be walking the red carpet Sunday with his briefcase full of winners handcuffed to his wrist, and he'll even have a moment on the stage. Still, he acknowledges that as of yet, being the chief vote counter for the Emmy Awards doesn't get him a lot of groupies.

For more on Andy Sale and how Ernst & Young handles the Emmy balloting process, please see our story in Thursday's Los Angeles Times.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Ernst & Young's Andy Sale with his super cool briefcase. Credit: Lawrence Ho / Los Angeles Times