Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Public voting as a factor in determining the result was first incorporated in Miss World pageant at the dawn of the new millenium. At that time, Miss World has just lost its creator, Eric Morely, who passed away in 2000. His widow, Julia Morley, took over and wasted no time in creating innovations. In 2001, the first year wherein she was completely at the helm of Miss World Organization, Julia Morley already introduced the voting system called "You Decide" for Miss World 2001. As it turns out, Julia Morley would eventually created a lot of other innovations, including the Fast Track and Scoreboard system. But this time, we will only talk about her first ever innovation as the Miss World Chairwoman - the public voting - starting from the year :

Julia Morley, the "mother of innovations" of Miss World

Dubbed as “You Decide”, public voting to help determine the semifinalists made its debut at Miss World in 2001. Peoples from around the world were invited to cast their votes via phone, SMS, and internet for their favorites and help decide the result of Miss World 2001. This voting ballot would be counted as half of the contestants score, while the other half would be decided by the judges. In the end, 10 contestants with the highest combined scores from the judges and the voting public will advance to the semifinal.

 Miss World 2001, the first ever Miss World whose result was partly influenced by public voting

The voting system used in 2002 practically remained unchanged from the previous year. Once again public could vote for their favorites and their votes would be counted as half of the contestants score. The only difference was the addition of the semifinalist spots. Instead of 10, this year, 20 contestants with the highest combined scores from the judges and the voting public will advance to the semifinal.

With the debut of Fast Track system this year, public voting was incorporated as one of the Fast Track events, whose winners will directly go through the Top 20. This also marks the first time ever at Miss World, public voting independently determines the fate of the contestants. In the end, Miss Australia Olivia Marie Stratton received the most votes and became the first ever Miss World semifinalist chosen entirely by popular vote. Nowadays, this voting premise - leaving the public in charge to decide one spot in the semifinal - is widely used among other pageants, including Miss Universe and Miss Tourism Queen International.

With such a charming smile, Olivia Stratton won the popular vote in 2003

After 3 years of success, Miss World Organization decided to bring the public participation in their pageant to the maximum level by having them to decide the entire result of the pageant, including the winner. To ensure each nation stands equal chance despite their size and population, Miss World Organization adopted Eurovision voting format, where the votes from each participating countries are translated into points. The 5 Fast Track winners along with 10 other contestants with the highest points from the global vote will advance to the semifinal. After points from all participating countries counted, Miss Peru Maria Julia Mantilla ended up with the most points and crowned Miss World 2004. So far, she is the first and only Miss World winner to be decided by the public instead of the traditional judging panel.

Maju Mantilla, he first and only Miss World winner to be decided by the public

The 2005 edition still saw the public as the main factor in deciding the semifinalists, but the power to decide the winner was given back to the judges. With the introduction of the continental / regional system, the 2005 voting was done regionally, unlike the 2004 edition voting which was done globally. In each region, 2 contestants with the highest points from the regional vote will advance to the semifinal. Since there were 6 regions (Asia Pacific, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Caribbean, Americas, and Africa), there were a total of 12 semifinalists chosen by the public while the remaining 3 would be decided by Fast Track result. Once the semifinalists chosen, the public vote bears no effect again and further decision would be entirely up to the judges.

The format is similar to the 2005 edition but this time Miss World Organization decided to reduce the power that the public possess in deciding the semifinalists. Only 1 contestant from each region would be chosen by the public to become a semifinalist. The other semifinalist from each region would be picked by the judges. Therefore, as a contrast of the 2004 and 2005 edition where majority of the semifinalists were peoples choice, in 2006 only 6 out of the Top 17 were determined by the public. However, the eventual winner of the pageant, Miss Czech Republic Tatana Kucharova, was among the 6 picked by the public.

 Top 17 of Miss World 2006, 6 of them were chosen by public votes

Since 2007, however, public voting is no longer used at Miss World. One of the most reasonable explanation for this is that public voting, while it may present a batch of semifinalists that are popular to the public, does not ensure that the semifinalists possess the quality required and desired by the Miss World Organization. After all, the public only have limited access to address each contestant quality, while a traditional panel of the judges will have more time to interact and to evaluate the contestants one by one. Therefore, the judges are expected to make a better choice in selecting a winner that suits Miss World criteria.

Despite that, we personally still hope to see the return of public voting in Miss World, perhaps in the format of the 2003 edition when it becomes one of the Fast Track events. Public voting is an interactive way to make people feel that they are also an integrating part of the show. They are not only watching it from afar but also has the power to influence the result. That way, they will become more interested and engaged in the pageant.

Now how about yourself? Do you also wish to see public voting return to Miss World?

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