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How Does the CMA Awards Voting Work?

The 50th Annual CMA Awards - Carrie Underwood
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

The 2017 CMA Awards are set to take place in November, and as always, many people are complaining that some of their favorite performers didn’t get nominated. We’re taking country fans inside the process by which the nominees are selected for the CMA Awards.

The CMA Awards are generally considered to be the most important and prestigious awards show in country music. That’s due in no small part to the fact that they are voted on only by a relatively exclusive group of industry professionals, who tend to be more apt to reward an artist for the overall quality of their work, rather than their popularity.

The CMA’s voting membership consists of people who earn their living primarily from the music business. They can be artists, managers, publicists, journalists, engineers, songwriters or anyone else in the business. They pay a CMA membership fee annually for different levels of membership, and one of the perks is voting for the annual awards. Organizations, including record companies and publishing companies, can also sign up for CMA membership. Employees of the Country Music Association do not take part in the voting, which is decided by more than 6,300 members in over 40 countries worldwide.

The eligibility period for the 2017 CMA Awards ran from July 1, 2016 until June 30, 2017. Only music released during that time frame can be considered. The voting consists of three rounds of ballots.

Round 1: CMA members get to nominate one act in each category in the initial ballot. The 20 eligible acts who receive the most votes in the first round of voting go on to become official nominees, except in the category of Entertainer of the Year, in which only the top 15 make the cut. Those nominees are then submitted to the entire CMA membership to vote on in a second ballot.

Round 2: CMA members vote for five nominees in each category during the second CMA Awards ballot. After the results of the second ballot are tabulated, the five nominees who receive the most votes go on to the third ballot. These are the final nominees who are announced to the public.

Round 3: In the third and final ballot, CMA members vote for one nominee in each category to determine the winners. International accounting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP oversees the balloting process. The results are presented to the industry and the public during the live telecast of the CMA Awards.

The 2017 CMA Awards are set to air live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Nov. 8 on ABC at 8PM ET, hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.

Remember: The best way to watch the CMAs is on TV, with ToC on your phone!

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Next: See All 2016 CMA Nominees

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