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Voting on Dancing With the Stars - How to Vote and How It Works

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There are many wonderful things about the reality show Dancing with the Stars. The costumes, the music, the interactions between the celebrities and their professional partners to name but a few.

But the most intriguing and unique aspect is the darn voting system. There are many aspects to it - each one simple and sensible - but it is when you put all the elements together that it forms something like Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

Here's an attempt to break down those elements and explain as simply as possible how it works.

What is Dancing with the Stars?

Dancing with the Stars is based on the BBC show "Strictly Come Dancing" shown in the UK. It pairs celebrities with professional dancers, with one celebrity being voted off each week.

It is hosted by Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, and has a panel of three judges - Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Julianne Hough.

How the Voting Works

Each couple is scored each week. The voting is based on the judges' scores and viewer votes. The couple with the lowest combined score (50% judges, 50% viewers) leaves each week.


Viewer Voting Methods

There are two methods to register your vote for the best couple each week:

Phone - each couple has their own number and votes can be can up to an hour after the show in each time zone.

Online - viewers can register at and vote for their favorite couple.

Phone lines and online polls will open at the top of each performance show so that viewers can vote for their favorites. Phone lines will stay open for 30 minutes after the end of the show. Online voting will remain open until 11am (Eastern Time) the next day.

DWTS Season 27 Phone Voting Information

As well as the phone lines, viewers are able to vote online at Email validation is now required so it might be an idea to pre-register.

Here are the couples

Alexis Ren & Alan Bersten – 1 800 868 3401 FREE
Bobby Bones & Sharna Burgess – 1 800 868 3402 FREE
Danelle Umstead & Artem Chigvintsev – 1 800 868 3403 FREE
DeMarcus Ware & Lindsay Arnold – 1 800 868 3404 FREE
Evanna Lynch & Keo Motsepe – 1 800 868 3405 FREE
Joe “Grocery Store Joe” Amabile & Jenna Johnson – 1 800 868 3406 FREE
John Schneider & Emma Slater – 1 800 868 3407 FREE
Juan Pablo Di Pace & Cheryl Burke – 1 800 868 3408 FREE
Mary Lou Retton & Sasha Farber – 1 800 868 3409 FREE
Milo Manheim & Witney Carson – 1 800 868 3410 FREE
Nancy McKeon & Val Chmerkovskiy – 1 800 868 3411 FREE
Nikki Glaser & Gleb Savchenko – 1 800 868 3412 FREE - out
Tinashe & Brandon Armstrong – 1 800 868 3413 FREE

Viewer Votes

The votes are totalled, the percentage for each couple is halved and then added to the judges' score.

Example: Six celebrities left, each performs one dance

Celebrity % of votes score
A 30 15
B 20 10
C 16 8
D 14 7
E 12 6
F 8 4
Total 100 50

The scores in the last column are added to the judges scores.


Judges' Scores

Each judge scores each dance out of 10.  That means that each couple can score up to 30 points from the judges.  This score is then divided by the total number of points awarded by the judges.  That is NOT the maximum number of points the judges could give, but the actual number of points.

If we take our example:

Celebrity    Judges Score    Percentage    Score
A                 25                     20.5                 10.2
B                 23                     18.9                  9.4
C                 23                     18.9                  9.4
D                 18                     14.8                  7.4
E                 15                     12.3                  6.1
F                 18                     14.8                  7.4
Total          122                     100.0               50.0

Rge scores are then combined with the viewers' scores.

Who Gets the Boot?

The couple with the lowest combined score is eliminated from that week. Here are the results for our example:

Celebrity Viewers' score Judges' Score Total Score
A 15 10.2 25.2
B 10 9.4 19.4
C 8 9.4 17.4
D 7 7.4 14.4
E 6 6.1 12.1
F 4 7.4 11.4

This season the show has introduced a "dance-off".  The two couples with the lowest scores (in this case E and F) will each dance again and be re-scored by the judges.  This new judges score will be combined with the viewers' votes to decide who goes home.

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  • Official Site for DWTS
    Official Dancing with the Stars site at
  • Dancing with the Stars (US) on Wikipedia
    Dancing with the Stars is a reality show airing on American Broadcasting Company in the United States. The show is based on the United Kingdom BBC Television series Strictly Come Dancing and is part of BBC Worldwide's international Dancing with the S


So, as you can see, it's not rocket science, but it's close.

There are also variations - when a couple dances twice, or if the dancing is split over two evenings.

The dance-off has brought a new dimension to the show - we'll see how well it does!

Tell us what you think!

Marlene on March 28, 2016:

Busy signal did not stop. March 2016. Hope doesn't happen tonight.

Faith on April 07, 2014:

That was a REALLY good dance!!!

angela on March 31, 2014:

i luv daning with the stars. nene can move. i am please with this year competition. i am trying to vote

Linda Pizzi on March 31, 2014:

We look forward to another entertaining night of Dancing With The Stars.

jack cox on May 20, 2013:

iam a 70 year old man I love to dance . Lost my lovley wife one year ago.That free stil dance kelly pickler did brought teer in my Eyes I it was amanzing .

Thank you Kelly. J. Cox

Katie on May 06, 2013:

You I love u Kelly !!!

ida on April 22, 2013:

I vote every week. Tonight my password was not accepted. I asked for my password, I was given a temporary password. I entered it and it was not accepted. This prevented me from voting for Kellie and Derek. I am very disappointed.

Ruthie on November 26, 2012:

Kelly and Val... all the way!

C.A.M. on November 12, 2012:

That old goal Lenny shouldn't be judging a garbage pick up contest. He's truly a sickening man.

Beverly on October 30, 2012:

I agree with rlr, Kirstie Allie IS the worst dancer of all the shows. I cannot believe Sabrina & Louie were voted off on oct. 30th instead of kirstie Allie. She cannot do anything that requires her partner to do LIFTS, and we all know why.

She dances like a cow!!! This elimination tonight proves that this show is fixed and our votes don't really count.

rlr on October 23, 2012:

I think Kirstie Allie was the worst dancer on the show. Horrible. Time for her to go.

linda reilly on October 22, 2012:

I am frustrated with not being able to use your phone to call into vote after 30/60 minutes of the end of the show. You can use computers to the next day to vote, but not you phone. I wish someone would tell me why this rule is in place and who decided such a mind-numbing rule.

barbara on October 09, 2012:

This is suppose to be an all star show!Bristol Palin is not all star material.She needs to be off so the show isn't embarrassed anymore,

Linda on October 01, 2012:

I want to vote for my star but it is so hard. Why is it so har for older peop0le?

Geri on May 26, 2012:

I think something has tobe done about the scoring. Like the article above states. the public should not have so much input in the voting. Let the judges do it. Katherin or Maria should have won. I watch to the end to see if one of the best wins then they lose.

Frank on May 26, 2012:

The voting system is horrible. Derek and Maria had highest scores and got kicked off, so the highest scores lose. There is no competition sport in the world that the highest scores get to be the losers! What incentive is there to be the top scorer? Katherine Jenkins and Mark scored highest and yet lost, what the hell is wrong with DWTS system? No wonder the ratings are so low! The ratings will tank soon if this keeps up. Imagine being in a tennis pro game and getting highest score and you LOSE, or a football game and go into overtime to break a tie and you get another touchdown and LOSE. What the hell are they doing? The big wheels at ABC need to get their heads examined, they are really fools!!!! They are going to lose the goose that laid the golden egg. Ratings will evaporate with their scoring!

ana ferro on May 22, 2012:

william is an awsome dancer!

Doris Leman on May 21, 2012:

Katherine is awesome -- such an elegant lady, beautiful dancer, gracious and kind. A wonderful role model for younger women and girls.

lea joy on May 21, 2012:

How do I get my vote counted on this site and any other one! Too bad I don't have more than 2 phones and their numbers to with!!!

Gloria Portschy on May 21, 2012:


judy Severson on May 21, 2012:

Great dancing, Donald and Peta!!

mary barron on May 21, 2012:

please keep micheal . he is the hotest man on there. i vote a 10 for them

Chief Bowker on May 21, 2012:

I love Katherine and Mark, and Trust they will win, but was only allowed 3 Votes. Why? I want to vote on line but don't know how.

Also, are the odds with a Male Star and Female Professional or the other way. The dancing is more on the Female, so I think they have a disadvantage. True? Maybe they should make it fair with a Male Stars one week, all Female Stars the next week. I wanted Maria 2nd - they blew it voting her off. She was GREAT. Kate - get 'em girl.

Rosie on May 16, 2012:

I think the judges vote should count 75% of the dancers total, because they are the experts. I watch the program for years and it's unfair when a dancer is less known than someone else. Take for instance last night anyone with any knowledge at all knows who should have not been eliminated, Derek & Maria. It is so unfair the way the voting is done & who really knows if the votes were counted right anyway.

sherry on May 16, 2012:

why don't you have the judges dance with the pros sometime and have the pros judge. see how well the judges do.

Renate lemons on May 16, 2012:

i am really bend out of shape about theresults last night. Derek and Maria should have gone all the way and win. Mis Justice in my books

KATHERINE on May 15, 2012:


Connie on May 14, 2012:

I am voting for Derek and Maria

Marge & Bill on May 07, 2012:

We are voting for Katherine and Mark They are great!

vicky on April 30, 2012:

love maria and derek they are great, but the judges have there pick. it is always a football person and they are wrong.

marianne on April 23, 2012:

LOVE Maria and Derek I hope they win!

Sharon on April 17, 2012:

Firstly, I LOVE the show. NEVER miss it. My comment is about Brooke - I have been so disappointed in her outfits. We all know she has breasts. It's not necessary to highlight them every week. The night she wore the yellow dress I came SO close to emailing. Last night's (April 17) outfit was again so over the top. And then tonight again you have emphasized her breasts. Enough already!!! She has a great figure, a lovely smile, that is enough. When you dress her like that it makes me wonder what it is you're selling. Dance costumes are one thing - they work with the dance. But there is absolutely no reason for her to dress in such a provocotive way.

Mildred Schmidt on April 16, 2012:

I wanted to vote tonight DWTS as phones my area were no longer working, too late,told to go to and vote, how? well my pick was a waste of time as I couldn't vote.

Kyli on April 16, 2012:


jenny on April 12, 2012:

I think it was terrible that Sherri got voted off the show! She was by far the most enjoyable dancer to watch. why don't the judges have the final say on who goes home?? I am finished watching the show for this year!!

Polly on April 03, 2012:

I tried and tried to vote for donal driver but could not get through. Time to upgrade the system

Maria Agozzino on April 02, 2012:

I want Rohan fergan and chelisea how tower deserve to win because they work very they practice very hard to get all 10 please let Rohan fergan and chelisea how tower to win they want to win so bad

KaDy 13 on April 01, 2012:

why are they charging $9.99 a month to vote on the phone lines this year?

Zee on March 26, 2012:

I think dancing with the stars are so perfect I can watch it all day also I would so freak out if I was picked for dancing with the stars so thet is my comment

pj on March 26, 2012:

I tried to vote online in the hour time I only got 9 votes. couldn't get thru on my home phone or my att cell phone. Texting first it keep saying not open yet the it gave credit to another person and then it said it wasn't open and it wasn't even 11 yet... so not fair.

debbie on March 20, 2012:

Can't find site to vote on line. Why is it so difficult? Got on two years ago and last year to vote. Would really like to vote on line too.

sabriya on March 11, 2012:

i like to vote for rome

kecy on March 11, 2012:

i vote for rome

Delia Charlemagne on February 19, 2012:

I would like to vote for Laila Ali and would like to vote for her. Can you help! What number can I call?

lyn on February 08, 2012:

I would like to see Jesse macarteny and Jessica alba with derek hough and lacy swimmer

Cham Mya Mya Soe on December 24, 2011:

I want Ricki Lake to win because I like her dancing techniques and styles. her dancing styles are beautiful and not like others. I hope Ricki Lake will win dancing with the stars.

Graciekhin on December 22, 2011:

Ricki Lake should be the winner because everybody like her dance and she is a good dancer.I also like her dancing techniques and styles. It is creative and beautiful.

inky on November 22, 2011:

i voted for J.R. and karinna, cuz they deserve to win, in part because karinna has never won. that said, i think it is being set up with an unfair advantage. j.r. is all over the media and on the cover of people and on nightline and etc. yes, he has the best story being burned alive and going through all he has and being a motivational speaker and also a minority and on and on. that said, it is too planned. i'll be glad when he does but that wasn't fair to the others. ricky came a long way losing the weight and rob kardashian is a good guy with a bad family that makes you want to vote against him. i liked his dad, who came to see oj was guilty. also, DEREK and CHERYL have won too many times and i'm sick of them, the houghs = ick and cheryl dissed the ball, saying it falls apart, so i voted for karinna. OH WELL, the show is NEVER fair, so J.R. gets the military vote, the soap fan vote, the back from the brink vote, and the best story for the show vote, and that is as it should be. reality tv is fake anyhow. they stopped the celebs from winning super amazing race, and joan rivers is a friend of trump so she wins, etc. so who cares who wins any of these things.

Lucille Wood on November 22, 2011:

I would like to vote for J.R. Martinez he is great both on the dance floor & off he epitomizes the word CLASS

rayne on November 21, 2011:

JR should win not only because he is the best dancer, but

he has had to overcome a major tragedy and he does not whine about it, still he laughs and does his best. He is my favorite because he is courageous and brave. I salute him and his partner!!!!!!!

larryfrombosque on November 21, 2011:

5 votes for jr

c james on November 21, 2011:

jr should be the winner

helenc on November 21, 2011:

I think the rules have to be changed. This is not a popularity contest. The votes should be about the dancing ability and not whether the home audience likes the star dancer the most or least. We've had good dancers go home while not so good dancers stay for another week or more.

larey on November 21, 2011:

i want jr to win

Maria Agozzino on November 17, 2011:

Go rob kardashian

jane on November 14, 2011:

The judges are bias especially kariann, she always give ricky lake the highest score, but tonight i cant believe they gave rob higher scores than jr, danced the best on both dances,every one please vote for jr, because i will the judges are not always fair,its really about who they want to win.

Treva Pruitt on November 14, 2011:

Jennifer Nettles would be great on the show

Theresa on November 14, 2011:

Riki & Derek are the total package of perfection. Derek floats like an autumn leaf, handsome, colorful & never fails to amaze me with his confidence & talent, Riki is right there with him, just as positive & beautiful.

Debbie on October 31, 2011:

I would like see Ricki Lake & Derek Hough win ballroom of there dances. I'll keep on voting for Ricki Lake & Derek Hough on the dancing with the star.

gina on October 25, 2011:

i like maxx i think hes cute so i vote max

bernie on October 18, 2011:

stop this popularity contest and vote for the best dancer

LA Lady from Los Angeles on October 14, 2011:

David & Kym being interviewed by ET!

Ann on October 11, 2011:

The telephone voting closed by 9:30 Pacific Time on the past two Mondays, Oct. 3 & 10, which is before the show ends. It should be staying open until 10:30 PT. I missed voting for Kristin and Mark last week because of this problem. How many others were locked out also? ABC, please fix this problem!!!

Glenn on October 11, 2011:

Please take that Chassity- Chaz and vote that SHIM off all he does is coplain about his knee's. he doesn't dance just walks around plus how want's to look at his/hers fat stomach

LA Lady from Los Angeles on October 11, 2011:

Check it out! David's backstage view from DWTS.

queenjazze on October 11, 2011:

Rob, Ricki, and the soldier are my favorites....

LA Lady from Los Angeles on October 10, 2011:

Excited that David & Kym are bringing it back!! They're gonna take it home. Dave even threw a BBQ this weekend at his home for the whole cast!

sue and rodney on October 05, 2011:

I think lastnights voting was so off! They need to get rid of the two media stars and let someone else get a chance. Chaz and Rob have as much talent as my pet rock. They make me sick .

Elaine and Cary on October 04, 2011:

My husband and I believe that the judges should have the final say, and/or, count in who the winner is on "Dancing with the Stars", as a change this year, or the next dancing season. We feel that it is all coming down to a popularity contest at times. The talent seems to be secondary, and popularity seems to win out. Also, why don't you sit Carrie Ann in the middle of Bruno and Len? We enjoyed Chubbie Checker and all of them dancing last night!! Yeah!!! Thank


Cary and Elaine

Will on October 03, 2011:

ABC has REALLY GONE DOWN THE TUBES... Trying to navigate their website is a conttinuing nightmare... Used to be good BUT now you cannot find the place to vote on DWTS. Phoey...

just trying to vote on September 27, 2011:

Voting for the new season is screwed up.. I live in California and the voting has been closed for the last

2 weeks at 9:00pm. How can the voting be accurate if we cant vote.

LA Lady from Los Angeles on September 26, 2011:

David and Kym are going to take this thing down. Lets face it: they spray tan and have secret handshakes...check out their home-made videos:

samra on August 24, 2011:

karan pangali 100/ winner.keep it up my dear

taliha on May 29, 2011:

i think damien they rocked

they should win

taliha on May 29, 2011:

i think damien they rocked

Eleanor on May 25, 2011:

I don't think Kirsty should have been in the top 3, people just vote for who they like not the good dancers, Kirsty did well but not good enough to beat Chelsea. Also I feel that football is so important to everyone that they vote for them, even though he did do good, I still think Chelsea was the best. To try to vote is impossible, it seems like it is fixed. I will not be watching anymore if things don't change.

Bonnie Harper on May 18, 2011:

I love the show but I think you should recognize the stage crew as well as the band, singers and dancers. they have done a BEAUTIFUL job for all 12 seasons!! it is just amazing how they can set up and/or clean up the "stage" in such a short time between the dancing. Please recognize them as well ON the show!! P.S. I love the show!!

anna on May 17, 2011:

Go b!!!On fish hooks.!!! Go Mark!!Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

pat on May 16, 2011:

I tryed to vote on line I could not find the site it should be easier that what it is the phone lines are always busy how should you get your votes in if you can't find the site to vote at

MJG on May 16, 2011:

I tried to vote for the first time (for Hines Ward), but the lines were busy the entire can this be fair when vote is limited by having too few phone lines?

xtnshun (author) from Reston, VA on May 16, 2011:

@rgb I think they may have changed it so voting is allowed after 30 minutes into the show. I'll check.

RGB on May 16, 2011:

Why can't I vote on my Verizon cell phone, It says I've exceeded my voting limit on attempting my first vote?


Gloria Sanches on May 09, 2011:

I want to vote for Romeo. But don't know how to do it

Gloria Sanches

cupcake on April 25, 2011:

romoe and the other girl who dance with him just won dancing with the stars!They got 28 im so happy that the girl had gave them a ten.:) on March 28, 2011:

I tried to cast a vote by phone for Heinz Ward but the line was busy from 10pm to 10:30 pm.

georgiana on March 21, 2011:

i can't get signed in to vote,i guess you dont want the voters to vote. maybe we'll stop watching ,if you can't vote wants the use.

rhonda on March 21, 2011:

To all you Bristol haters! I called for her and I have gotten a thanks for voting for Jennifer and Derek, and I did not vote for them! So I guess it works both ways!!!

Linda S. on March 08, 2011:

I want Kirstie alley to win because she needs the discipline, recognition, accolades, prestige, smiles, etc. she would receive as the winner. Look what being close to winning did for Kelly Osbourne, who also needed her self-esteem raised.

Lois Guthrie on February 22, 2011:

I love Dancing With the Stars - it is THE most entertaining show on TV which (currently) is a bit of a wasteland. Anyway, I would love to see David Muir (ABC news reporter) and Robin Roberts on the show . . . I suppose their schedules would preclue them from even being invited but I believe they would add a good deal of pizzas and elegance to the season. To the producers, thank you for creating and sustaining a show that the WHOLE family may watch together. It also has highlighted dance - something this country is fairly unethusiastic about.

Sheree on February 16, 2011:

I think you need to get Steven Tyler on dancing with the stars!!

leann on January 30, 2011:


Alice on November 23, 2010:

I think all those people who are making negative comments about Bristol are either jealous of her or have something against her mother. Because Bristol is a sweet and lovely young lady who knows how to dance. How many people can get up in front of thousands of people and do what she does? I don't think very many. So Boo Hoo to all of you Palin trashers. I hope Bristol Wins Big and takes home the trophy she deserves after all you did to her.

Michael Kriegel on November 23, 2010:

Hey@No one,

They just took a play from the Libtard cheat book.

Sahme on you.

No one on November 23, 2010:

It's such a shame when a young girl has no spine! It s a shame for

Republicans and for America. Now everyone can see how they manipulate

people and elections; they have no principles! People should react!

Shame on you!

Stacie on November 23, 2010:

I never watched the show until the finalle. I did not think Bristol did bad. I believe most do not like her because of who her mom is.

I also tried to vote. Got through once. And them was told I had reached my limit on voting from this phone line. Can you only vote once on the phone? Did get to vote online this morning though could not get in last night online.

Yes I did vote for Bristol. I think she is getting a raw deal because of politics.

MONIKA on November 23, 2010:


trish on November 23, 2010:

I called the whole time and all I got was a busy signal.

Bonnie Blair on November 23, 2010:

The name of the show is, "Dancing with the stars". Since when is Bristol a "star". It is about "dancing", not who is most "improved". I too tried to vote on redial last night and got a busy signal every time. I did it constantly. Something is wrong with the voting system. Too bad the public gets to vote, they make it a popularity contest. But if they didn't, no one would watch. I am finished watching DWTS, because it no longer has anything to do with who is the best "dancer". Too bad, I used to enjoy it.


Kathy Brening-Ray on November 23, 2010:

I too agree; if Jennifer doesn't WIN, I won't watch another episode of Dancing with the stars & keep watching the comedys & Hawaii 5/0 on CBS. From the 1st week Bristol should have been gone, NOT David Hasselholf. But to tell you the truth, she's NO celeb to begin with. She shouldn't be on the show. And to see she's made it to the end; even the judges need to put some glasses on! How in the world can they even give them 7-'s 9's.Her legs haven't improved in an dances sincehe beginning! If Jennifer doesn't WIN; I'll NEVER watch anything that has to do with voting or maybe even most of the shows I wach already, I'll just quit watching! There's mny other shows on other stations to watch............ Come on ABC-7 , GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER, & DON'T MIX POLITICS With another show like this again!! They DON'T GO TOGETHER!!!!!! Kathy

AudreyKrauss on November 23, 2010:

I have tried to vote by phone and by computer on O cannot get in. I started voting at end of show and got up every hour and still couldnot get in. Bristol isnot a dancer. I think ABC is being hacked and that is why I cannot get in. Jennifer and Derek should win and if they don't we all know the show is rigged and I am not gong towatch it anymore. Audrey

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