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When is a vote, not a vote?

The voting for this year's 20th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards has now closed and COO Sita McIntosh reflects on the process

20th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards

If you haven't cast your votes yet in the 20th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards then I'm afraid it's too late. Five o'clock today was the deadline so the task of cleaning and collating begins in earnest so that we can get the trophies engraved in good time for Sunday 1 March.

Now seems like a good time to address some of the concerns and complaints that have been circulating recently on social media and sent directly into WhatsOnStage about the rules and regulations of the voting and the measures that we take to ensure as fair a result as possible.

To re-cap the rules as stated on the WhatsOnStage Awards website are as follows:

• You must be over 16 to nominate/vote
• You must submit a valid email address to nominate/vote
• Nominations/votes are limited to one per person
• All nomination/voting results are tabulated and will be audited to remove fake, duplicate and other invalid votes
• No automatic, programmed or robotic means of nomination/voting are permitted. Any such nominations/votes will be declared invalid and removed
• WhatsOnStage reserves the right to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend nominations/voting should any virus, bug, non-authorised human intervention, fraud or other causes beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or proper conduct of the nomination/voting process
• All decisions regarding the nomination/voting process are final and shall not be subject to challenge or appeal

It's a well known fact that some nominees have huge fan bases and mobilise them to cast votes in their favour. This is completely understandable and why wouldn't you? However some of those fans do take it one step further and are so determined to see their favourites win that they create multiple email accounts in order to bypass the one email address/one vote rule. We have seen quite a number of tweets and messages from some people boasting about numerous email accounts (in some cases 50 accounts or more) in order to rack up the votes and several more have been brought to our attention by disgruntled fans of the other nominees in that category raising legitimate concerns of transparency and fairness.

Rest assured that when we clean up the votes we not only remove duplicate email addresses but also duplicate IP addresses so unless those 50 email accounts were created on 50 separate devices they won't count. An IP address (short for Internet Protocol address) is used to identify computers on the Internet similar to a return address on a piece of mail. Last week alone we removed more than 10,000 duplicate votes primarily for just two candidates in the same category. Please spare a thought for our poor adjudicator who has to methodically and tediously go through this process every week in order to keep our results as genuine as possible.

We are hugely flattered at the lengths people go to to accumulate votes for our Awards; we take it as a massive compliment that they mean so much to the nominees. However we must keep the voting as fair and clean as possible otherwise the Awards themselves will become meaningless.

Also it's not true to suggest that only those people with huge Twitter and/or Instagram followings win. Two years ago when John McCrea picked up the Best Actor in a Musical Award for his role in Everybody's Talking About Jamie, the first thing he said in his acceptance speech was that he thought he didn't stand a chance because he wasn't on social media. However he more than comfortably won his category so is a perfect example of winning the award based on his performance rather than the number of his followers.

So when the winners are announced on Sunday 1 March please rest assured that we have done all that we can to ensure that the results are legitimate and above board. It's hugely important to us that our Awards maintain their credibility within the industry so we will do all that we can to protect that.

Finally I can't speak for the nominees but I do know that if I were them I would much rather be picking up that trophy knowing that I won it on merit. So to all those who try and beat our system, your devotion is admirable but can I respectfully ask that you play fair? Thank you :-)

Head to the WhatsOnStage Awards website for all our up-to-date coverage.

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