I saw this article on CNN a few days ago, and it’s basically an echo of a rant I’ve had for a while now. During the first season of American Idol, I never cast a single vote, but I started voting during the second season. Towards the end of that season, it became extremely difficult to cast a vote because of all the busy signals. After the showdown between Ruben and Clay, it took me almost an hour before I was “lucky” enough to sneak my vote into their overburdened phone lines. The entire season this year has been ridiculous. The first few weeks, I had to allow at least 10-15 minutes to account for all the busy signals, and I have been unable to vote for the past several weeks because the phone lines are just too jammed. By some estimates, only about 20% of would-be votes are actually counted for that very reason. Even Hawaii, which has routinely benefited from being able to call several hours after everyone else has gone to sleep, suffers from the same problem.

I am not the only person who has complained about this. And what is Fox’s response? “Nobody gets a busy signal doing a text message.” For one thing, that’s not entirely true. Besides, the text messaging option is through the AT&T wireless network, so customers of other companies would be unable to vote using that method. What’s really insidious about that response is that text messaging is not free, while the toll-free phone lines are. Fox seems to be hyping their “paid” voting method, while semi-discouraging people from using their free voting method. For one of the top shows on TV, its producers sure know how to pinch the pennies, don’t they?

This voting fiasco, combined with the fact that we never see any accounting of the votes that are cast, makes me wonder if it’s even worth the trouble to vote anymore. I haven’t stopped completely, but it’s a lot easier to throw in the towel when I start getting the almost-inevitable busy signals.

Brian