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Should 'American Idol' change its voting system?

Randy12 In the wake of all the what-went-wrong, post-Pia Toscano hand-wringing (not to mention the Casey Abrams near ouster) in recent weeks, there's been a lot of talk about a need to revisit the way voting works on "American Idol." And the people doing the talking aren't just fans bereft of their favorite singers.

"Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe recently said the show might consider adopting a system in which "Idol" voters determined the bottom three, and then the judges decided which contestant would be sent home.

And now judge Randy Jackson has said that he too thinks a few changes to the elimination process might be in order, in part because  the voting is biased against women. "There's a lot of young girls and young women voting.... They really vote more for guys than girls," Jackson told Ryan Seacrest on Friday in an E! News interview. Jackson predicted that this season, "at the end of the day, two boys will be left standing. Two boys."

Jackson's proposed solution? A second judges' save, like the one that pulled Abrams back from the brink.

"We might need to have, in the top 13, one save, and then in the top 10 — up to the top five, another save, because I felt that Pia was starting to hit her stride," he said. "I think we have to come up with some sort of system, because what we want, ultimately ... is a duel to the finish. The two best ones to be there at the end, duking it out."

Season 4 second-place "Idol" finisher Bo Bice, meanwhile, has expressed wariness about "Idol" voting changes that could disenfranchise the show's fans. "The format has to change a little each year to keep things fresh, but 'American Idol' is built on fan response and interaction," he told the New York Post. "It has always relied on the American public to help build a superstar.... I can tell you right now, America will always have a say in the end."

What do you think? Should "Idol" change the way it determines who gets sent home? And if so, how? Should fans or judges have the final say?

Full Show Tracker coverage of "American Idol"

-- Amy Reiter

Photo: "Idol" judge Randy Jackson. Credit: Tony Duran / Fox

Comments () | Archives (46)

Let's review the results of the "public voting" every season shall we? Can you name all the winners from each season or do you remember who was kicked off too son and went on to have better careers than the actual winner? How about last years winner? Can you name him or do you just remember Adam Lambert?

You see America has a very poor track record in picking qualified talent? Its style over substance. I mean geesh just look at who the President is? Popular? Yes? Qualified? No.

Winners supposedly get picked by something like 30 million votes on average each season. OK. So where are those numbers when the winner puts out a album or tours? Nowhere. Taylor Hicks won but his debut CD sold less than 200,000 copies. How about Rueben Studdard or David Cook? They too are residing in the "where are they now" file.

For me, the judges are non-sequitor once it goes into the finals. What are they there for? It's obvious that their opinions mean nothing to the results each week. They praise Pia and Jacob for their amazing performances but they still ended up in the "bottom 3". Something is very wrong with this show.

For me, the judges should pick the bottom 3 and America votes someone off after they "sing for their own redemption". Any other way is too skewed to voting based on cuteness, popularity or jealousy. This is a "talent" competition just a method for hormone ridden young girls to vote on cuteness.

Dancing With The Stars (DWTS) has this issue just right ... 50% judges ranking on any given night, and 50% fan votes. As it is on Idol, the judges are basically irrelevant to what happens once the final 12 (or 13 or whatever in any given season) -- other than the "save" thing that got added recently -- so why are they there at all?

If you want the judges to be able to influence what happens during the prime time vote-offs, give them some power. Otherwise, all they are doing is making a subjective judgement even more subjective by their comments.

I think that judges should vote on the winner at the end. I haven't watched it since Adam Lambert got ousted. I watched people in a group text in all night to knock him out on purpose because he was a homosexual. There is still prejudice against people's color, age, and gender. It is alright for them to have a say, but the judges are there to cast the last vote. If not, why are they there?
People should only be allowed to vote 1 time not 3000.

I agree with the posters below that the voting system needs to change. The judges should have more say in who goes... I like the idea below that the judges get to decide who in the bottom 3 should go home. And 50 votes is a lot for any one person to get... that's how some of the not so great singers make it to safety.. I mean come on this is a talent contest...

It's fine the way it is. It's not always objectively about the best talent. Pia for example was stiff and didn't connect. Great talent yes, but something real was lacking. I remember how shocked I was when Jennifer Hudson was booted off early, but she shows that if you really have talent, there's much more after idol. Producers know this, and they will be sure that those with talent really come out winning, no matter who some tween girl in Omaha voted for 50 times.

My suggestion is to pattern the AI voting after that of U.S. elections; meaning: One man, one vote!

I stopped watching AI after the disgraceful finals last year -- when a mediocre MALE singer outvoted a truly talented and far, far better FEMALE contestant!

A.I. should adopt the 'Dancing With The Stars' voting format. If there are 6 couples then you have 6 votes by phone and 6 on ABC DWTS page. Once you make the limit you are done.

Being able to call 500 times is crazy.

As long as voters are allowed to votes multiple times, the results will never reflect the truth. Giggly girls will stay up all night with their friends and keep speed voting cutes guys. It should be one vote per telephone number or computer. This is the only way the results would come close to being real. Are Oscar voters allowed to vote multiple times? Or Emmy, Grammy or Tony voters for that matter?

Give me a break! Why give the three judges multiple saves? It is bad enough that they have one save. They represent 3 personal tastes. Let the majority of America in the mix. Also, I never believed in the hype that 55 million votes equals 55 million viewers which is what is implied. Have one vote per phone number/computer and you can see a better viewership.

If they change the way American Idol votes then they should also change the name of the show.

Chris... I love your idea...
"Instead, how about having the judges pick one "save" out of the bottom three presented each week. Then the bottom of the two that remain is the one who is eliminated. There is a chance that the person they saved was safe anyway, so more often then not it is not a save, but simply insurance against eliminating someone really good. The judges get to do a "positive action" instead of asking them to do the negative."
It is positive and it still allows America to have it's say.

I stopped watching Idol after Lambert was voted off. Other years I waas disgusted with some of the winners. I came to the conclusion that the viewing public and myself have two different opinions on talent. I decided to give it another try this year because of the new judges....but again realize that I am not in sync with America. My suggestion would be to give the judges some voting power (ie. dancing with the stars) and combine that with a VERY limited amount of votes allowed the public.

The judges should be the ONLY voters. They have the "ear," the "expertise," and the OBJECTIVITY that is required for this show. There are too many "Bozos" in the voting audience whose votes should not be counted.

The male singers are better than the females this year, with the exception of Haley. As much fuss as some have made over Pia's departure, she obviously wasn't an audience favorite. I didn't hear anything distinctive about her voice. When Streisand sings, we know it's her. Ditto for most of the remaining singers. As far as previous winners, I always thought that Simon sabotaged the real talent on their last song. His reviews were negative, and the voting followed. At least once, if not twice, Simon apologized for his unfair criticism after the vote was done. Without Simon, there might be a better ending. Every year, they put someone in the top that couldn't possibly win, and then they berated and embarrassed that person. It was ridiculous. At least now, I can enjoy the singing. I like this year so much better.

With the online voting people should be allowed to rank the contestants from top to bottom, like the NCAA polls. That way the 2nd and 3rd performers would get credit as well. you could weight the complete polls higher than the single votes, since they contain more useful information.

One vote per household would not cut it, we have 4 women and girls in the house who vote, and if only one were able to vote? I'd be a dead man! Dancing with the Stars lost out with our family with 5 votes allowed, they each vote one time and then one of the 4 gets to make the only second vote they can to come up with the 5 votes per household? That sucked.

the multiple votes thing isn't that big of a deal...because everyone can do that and it ends up equaling out anyways. but the main flaw in the voting is that we vote for the our favorite instead of our least favorite...its simple, if every single person unanimously agreed one of the contestants was '2nd best' they get kicked off because they'd get zero votes. a lot of times its hard to say who was the best, but who is worse seems to typically be more universally agreed on

I read a post on another blog from someone who voted 18,000 times using some text message program. I don't see the point in my voting anymore. A better voting system would put a serious limit on the number of votes - whether its one, ten, or a hundred.

I really like the idea posted below. Identify the lowest three vote getters and then let the judges save one from the "stools of doom." Whichever of the remaining two had the lowest votes goes home. Lots of drama there plus it should help keep the talent around.

The AI voting system is broken. It's rare that the AI winner goes on to become a great success in the music business. Typically, the winner fades into relative obscurity. The also rans have greater chances of success than the winners. I propose two major changes that might help fix this.
1. Using the DWTS model, let the judges' votes count throughout the competition. I propose a panel of seven judges with strong industry credentials, who all vote on a numerical scale. After each performance, only two or three of the judges get to speak (this can be a rotating assignment). The total judges' score can count for up to half of the final score. The voters get the other half.
2. Segregate the boys and the girls. Each week one male and one female get voted out. At the end there will be two winners, one of each gender. This won't cost any more than the current method, it doubles the chances for somebody to be successful, and it broadens the appeal of the show.

This is very simple: 1. Allow only one vote per phone number or email address. This will nearly eliminate the popularity contest aspect. 2. Give the judges votes more weight, say 50%, in the finals.

Now if they want to make this a much more legitimate competition, say like a figure skating competition, eliminate fan voting entirely and give the judges ALL the votes. I understand completely why Idol's producers want fan voting: they actually LIKE the idea of a popularity contest. It blows the ratings through the roof, and in TV ratings is everything. But you can't have it both ways. Either make it more legitimate as a competition or put up with "shocking" eliminations because your audience demographic is so one-sided.

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