As the 2022 Grand Final of Eurovision 2022 played out on screen, behind the scenes, it was another story. Those auditing the votes were getting ready to replace the points awarded by six juries following an incident with how they voted in the Thursday semi-final.
When a press release explained what had happened and why, the Internet exploded with some broadcasters insisting their juries were innocent and many missing the point. This wasn’t to do with voting in the final. Votes were replaced with points generated by an algorithm because of what had occurred two nights earlier.
The European Broadcasting Union’s independent pan-European Voting Partner detected irregular voting patterns in the jury votes of six countries taking part in the Second Semi-Final: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, San Marino.
It was observed that four of the six juries all placed five of the other countries in their Top Five (taking into account they could not vote for themselves); one jury voted for the same five countries in their Top 6; and the last of the six juries placed four of the others in the Top 4 and the fifth in their Top 7. Four of the six received at least one set of 12 points which is the maximum that can be awarded.
The suspicions were acknowledged by an Independent Voting Monitor, as five of these six countries were ranked outside the Top 8 by the juries in the 15 other countries voting in the same Semi-Final (which included three of the Big Five: Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom). Additionally, four of the six countries were ranked in the bottom six of the other countries voting. A jury voting pattern irregularity of such a scale is unprecedented.
The Eurovision Song Contest rule book states that if jury votes present irregular voting patterns the ESC Executive Supervisor has the right to remove the votes concerned for allocating the ranks and to replace them with a substitute aggregated result calculated automatically to determine the final country result of these countries in the Second Semi-Final.
The problem was felt to be serious enough to repeat the automatic calculation in the grand final.
Discussed with broadcasters
The EBU has since discussed the jury patterns with the relevant broadcasters and given them the opportunity to further investigate the jury voting in their countries. Following these discussions, nothing has changed.
In a statement issued today, the EBU confirmed it will “continue to collaborate closely on safeguarding the integrity and success of an event that has been a unique platform for creative talent over 66 years, and looks forward to continuing to entertaining audiences worldwide.”
What is an ‘irregular vote’?
An irregular vote is detected if multiple security checks are triggered:
a) Deviation from the norm – Does the result reflect the overall taste of the other professional jurors? Bearing in mind that they are all music professionals requested to vote on the basis of the same criteria laid down under the Rules of the Contest (e.g. a national jury puts at the top of its ranking (a) song(s) that the majority of the others
b) Voting Patterns – Are there visible patterns of voting within the jurors?
c) Irregularities – Did the juries observe the Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest?
d) Reoccurring Patterns – Do other countries repeat similar voting patterns?
e) Are there beneficiaries – If deviations occur, who benefits from the result?
If the answer to more than two of these questions is Yes then the pattern is considered as irregular and the votes affected by such irregularity are removed provided that the irregularity is confirmed by the pan-European Voting Partner (benefiting from 17 years of experience administering the ESC voting) and acknowledged by the Independent Voting Monitor.