To count the final ballots and determine the winners, tabulators including Ruiz and Cullinan are sequestered into a secret room with the door locked behind them. The exact location of the room is known only to a few members of the PwC ballot team. Winners in most categories, including Best Actor and Best Actress, can win with a plurality, meaning the tabulators simply need to determine which nominee received the most votes. The biggest categories are often counted last, only two days before the show, so that the PwC partners will know the results for as short a time as possible before winners are announced. The ballots for all categories, including Best Picture, are hand counted.
Ranked ballots have long been used to choose nominees for each category, but only recently has the process been extended to choosing actual winners. When the Academy expanded the Best Picture nomination category to 10 potential nominees, they also adopted ranked choice voting to make sure the film with the broadest support among voters wins. “With 10 nominees,” the Academy said when announcing the change, ranked choice voting “best allows the collective judgement of all voting members to be accurately represented.”