Over the long history of Eurovision, the voting systems have changed numerous times. Between the first contest in 1956 and 1997, the votes were decided by small, demographically balanced juries who would rank the entries to decide on a winner. In 1998, it became possible for the general public to vote via telephone. If the voting was not valid for whatever reason, the jury vote would be the vote submitted for that nation.
From the first contest using the televote to 2003, the songs were recapped and audiences had 5 minutes to vote. From 2004 to 2006, audiences had 10 minutes, and then from 2007 to 2009, audiences had 15 minutes to vote after all the performances of the night. In 2010, audiences were allowed to vote during the performances, however in 2012, the process went back to having 15 minutes after the performances.
To announce the votes, originally, members of the jury were contacted via telephone, and was used until 1993. From 1994 onwards, the spokesperson was contacted via satellite. The spokesperson will read the votes out in French or English, and the hosts would translate the votes into both English and French (however since 2004, the votes were only translated from either English to French or vice versa, depending on which language they were announced in). Votes range from 1 to 7 points, then 8, 10 and 12 – douze points. To save time in the broadcast, from 2006 onwards, the points from 1 to 7 were just show on screen, and only 8, 10 and 12 were announced by the spokesperson. Accompanying the vote announcement is the scoreboard, which displays the number of points given to the chosen nations and where they are ranked at that time, as well as a bar to tell audiences how many nations have announced their votes.
There were some voting changes in 2013 to 2015, where it was still 50% televote and 50% jury vote, however the jurors were asked to rank all the competing entries, rather than their top ten only. The scores were then all added together to determine who would receive the points 1-7, 8, 10 and 12 added to the televoting points.
From 2016 onwards, we saw another change to the voting system, and probably the most significant in a while. The split between jury and televote still exists, but instead of the points combining into one complete vote, the votes were kept separate. We still get the usual spokespeople who announce the votes, which are the jury votes from each individual country. After all the jury points are presented, it’s time for the televotes to be presented. The votes are announced from 26th place upwards, with the recipient of the most points being announced last. This process is said to increase the tension, and so audiences won’t know the winner until the final votes are announced.
This was then changed again for Eurovision 2019, where the order of the televote was announced in the order of jury votes from lowest to highest, ie, the recipient of the highest jury vote had their televotes announced last.
Up until 1969, there was no need for a tie break procedure for the contest, as no one had ever tied for 1st place. In 1969, four countries all tied for 1st place – France, Netherlands, Spain and the UK. At the time, there was no tie break procedure, so all four countries were awarded the title as winner, or winners in this case.
Unfortunately other nations did not agree with this, and in the following year, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Portugal did not participate out of protest, so the EBU decided to devise a plan of attack if this was to happen again in the future.
The current tie-breaking rule is that if more than one country ties for first place, the country that received points from a greater amount of countries is the winner. If it is still a tie, a system of ‘counting back’ is used. The second tie breaker is to count the number of counties who gave 12 points to each entry in the tie, and the tie break continues through 10 points, 8 points etc until the tie is resolved.
Due to the nature of the voting, it is actually not that common that a song will result in nul points – or zero points. Since the current scoring system, less than 20 songs have received the dreaded nul points – including 2 unlucky countries in 2015 (Germany and host Austria).
Bloc Voting is a term that is thrown around a lot, but what does it mean? Well it refers to countries within the same region exchanging points. For example, statistically, it is seen that Greece and Cyprus often vote for each other, the Baltics, Balkans or Scandinavian counties exchanging votes within those regions. Studies have shown that it is more likely to be due to cultural likeness rather than political alliances, but for many, the jury is still out..
Recap of the Voting Process
If you only take a couple of things from this, all you as a viewer need to know is that:
- Voting is 50% televote (you, the public) and 50% jury
- Points go from 1-8, 10 and 12
- The song with the most points wins!