Editorial: How should Eurovision voting be structured?

As the EBU continues to investigate the 2013 Eurovision voting scandal, it’s time to rethink the voting system at Eurovision. How do you measure the best act at Eurovision? How should the final votes be calculated? Regardless of your answer, it’s clear something must be done. Just look at poor Ireland this year. Ryan Dolan was clearly liked better than some other acts in almost every country, but he still finished last.

First, should each country have equal weight? Should the votes of the 32,000 people in San Marino count equally with the 143 million in Russia? On the flip side, if all votes are combined in one pot, then the eight largest countries decide the event.

One possibility is to weight each country (yes this is similar to the U.S. Congress). Each country has a weight of 2. And then an additional weight of 78 (2 * 39 participating countries) is apportioned based on vote totals from that country. Say Russia contributed 10% of the vote, it would have a weight of 2 + 7.8 = 9.8. That weight is multiplied to each country’s final vote when combining all votes to get the final total. So Russia would likely have 5 times the weight of San Marino. That’s more, but San Marino still matters.

Another possibility is to combine all votes across Europe into one total count (“We Are One”, right?) and then combine that with the per country vote results. These two votes do not have to have equal weight, but it would both give some weight based on number of voters. And it would also put some weight to a vote averaged across all countries.

Second, should there be a jury vote? The juries are less swayed by draw order and that’s very important. On the flip side some of the juries appear to be brain dead (the U.K. probably has the same morons selecting the jury as select their entries). And some juries may well be bought off (really – Malta selects Azerbaijan as the best act every year?).

Cezar Ouatu Thomas Hanses EBUAnd do juries even make for better results? This year the jury hurt Romania the most and helped Sweden the most. Results that put Sweden 3rd and Romania 24th are way off base. On the flip side, last year the jury gave Pastora Soler a well deserved 5th place while the televote put her in 18th.

Third, if juries are here to stay, how should they be selected? How free are jurors to vote in Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Russia? And even in democratic countries, many of the jurors work in the industry and as such they will tend to curry favor with those they need for future work.

Even if a country selects honest independent jurors, are they people with sufficient knowledge to make a good decision? Say a Greek feels comfortable giving 12 points to Turkey or Germany (which would have people more upset?), are they a qualified juror?

Keep in mind musical taste is different for each individual. What makes the juror’s preferences any more valid than mine? And if they’re measuring by technical perfection – that is not what makes for an appealing act. It helps, but it’s not even a majority of the presentation.

Fourth, how should the votes be totaled? If the televote is 78% for the 1st place act and the jury vote is 20% for their 1st place votes, are those 1st place votes equal? If a country’s combined vote for 1st place is 65%, is that the equal to another country where the combined 1st place vote is 15%?

Another approach is for each country to have a total of 67 votes and they are allocated among the top 11 acts, based on the percentage they get. If a country really, really likes an act, then they can give .78 * 67 or 52 votes, with a lot fewer votes to the remaining acts. At present the voting is a step function where 1 more vote than the 2nd place act gains as many final votes as getting 98% of the votes in a country.

What do you think? What would make for the best system? And what is the desired result of a “best” system?

David T contributed this report from Colorado. Follow the team from wiwibloggs.com on Twitter @wiwibloggs and keep up with the latest Eurovision news by liking our Facebook page.

Photos: Dennis Stachel (EBU)