Oscar night is barely a week away, and Academy of Motion Picture voters have had to submit their ballots. Now it’s down to the counting. For Best Picture, that count will be with instant runoff voting, the ranked choice voting method used for a growing number of elections around the world.
What is striking is that the favorite for the Oscar Best Picture’s Award, “The King’s Speech” has a unique connection to IRV.
On May 5, the nation where the movie takes place—the United Kingdom-- will hold its second national referendum in history. The subject matter will be on instant runoff voting – called “the Alternative Vote” in the UK -- for future elections to the House of Commons Furthermore, the movie’s leading star – Colin Firth (George VI) and Helena Bonham Carter (Queen Elizabeth) – have joined the “yes” campaign.
Colin Firth, the overwhelming favorite for Best Actor declared to The Guardian: "The referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change our clapped-out politics for good. I'll be voting yes."
Bonham Carter, nominated in the Best Actress category, joined him an endorsement. Ironically, she is a close friend of Samantha Cameron, wife of Prime Minister David Cameron, who has announced his opposition to the referendum. (Leaders of the Liberal Democratic and Labor Parties are both backing a Yes vote, however.)
There’s one more connection to flag. The other main actor of the movie, Geoffrey Rush (who plays King George’s speech therapist), is from Australia, where members of the House of Representatives have been elected by Instant Runoff Voting for nearly a century.
Are all these signs a product of coincidence or a real touch of destiny for “The King’s Speech”? Will the voting method that Bonham Carter and Firth support for their country elect their movie as the Best Picture of the year? The answer will be given on the 27th -- and an even bigger question about the future of fair elections and voter choice-friendly electoral rules to be answered in the United Kingdom on May 5th.