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Emmy awards
Emmy awards | Evan Agostini/Getty Images

The nominations for the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards are about to be unveiled. As usual, these nominations are decided upon by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, a.k.a. the Television Academy. But who, exactly, are the people making up this organization? And how does the nomination process work?

The Television Academy consists of over 24,000 people, and all of them are members of the entertainment industry in some fashion. The organization is a lot more open than something like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on the Oscars and only consists of about 7,000 people.

Still, there’s a whole process to getting admitted into the Television Academy. You need to be actively working in the industry, and you have to pay a fee of $200 per year, according to the organization’s website. You also need the endorsement of at least two of your peers.

So the idea is that the winners of the Emmys are getting the award from their peers in the industry. This is as opposed to something like the Golden Globes, which are handed out by an organization of journalists.

How does the actual nomination and voting process work, then?

To start with, a work has to be submitted for consideration, and in order for it to be eligible, it needs to have aired within a certain window. For this year’s ceremony, it would need to be between June 1st, 2017 and May 31st, 2018. This is why certain shows like Veep aren’t up this year. It costs money to submit a show or a person, and there’s usually a whole campaign process involved in order to get the word out there; this is referred to as a “For Your Consideration campaign.”

Determining the Emmy nominations works simply enough. Members are divided into about 30 peer groups, and members of each group vote on the awards related to their field, with the actors voting on the acting categories, directors voting on the directing categories, etc. For categories like Best Drama that aren’t specific to one group, everyone votes.

This voting is accomplished using an online system. After the voting is tabulated, the handful of people or shows that got the most votes end up nominated at the Emmys.

The logo for the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards. | CBS

When it comes to the final winners, this process used to be pretty complicated. The Academy would assemble together a panel of judges to vote rather than having everyone in the organization do so. These judges would be volunteers from the Academy, but it always seemed odd that a small percentage of the actual members of the Academy were voting on the winners.

So in 2015, this was changed so that now, everyone who was eligible to vote during the nomination process votes on the final winners. Once again, you vote for the people within your peer group, and then everyone votes for the big awards like Best Drama Series. And no, you can’t vote for yourself.

In terms of how exactly the winner is decided, this again used to be more complicated, but it’s fairly simple now: you just check off who you want to win, and the person with the most votes takes home the Emmy. The winners used to be determined by a preferential ballot system, but that’s no longer the case as of 2016.

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards will air on September 17th, 2018.

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