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About the 2023 Readers’ Choice Contest

In The Vindicator’s Readers’ Choice contest, readers have the last word.

The contest proceeds in three phases – a nomination phase, a first round of voting and a final round of voting.

Nominations and voting:

  • Nomination round: The contest starts with a nomination round, where readers can propose businesses, organizations, and names for all of the categories, including new categories. This keeps the contest fresh, as new businesses and organizations come to the area and as existing ones change and grow.
  • First voting round: In the first voting round, readers vote to winnow the big list of nominated businesses, organizations, and attractions down to just the Top Five in each category.
  • Final voting round: The excitement builds with voting on the Top Five businesses, organizations, and attractions in each category! This is the final voting round, and from this will name the top 3 businesses in each category.

Fair voting:

Nominees/entrants are prohibited from soliciting votes by offering payments or exchange of value of any kind.

Voting is limited to one vote in each category per person per day.

Even though we require sign-ups, we recognize that some people, in their enthusiasm, may be tempted to vote several times using different email accounts. Please note that voting under multiple email accounts violates the rules.

We do have systems in place to detect fraudulent voting. When we see evidence of fraudulent voting, we may eliminate all suspect votes at our discretion. In extreme cases, we will remove entrants, as well.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What are the key dates for 2023?

  • Nomination Period: May 27 – June 7
  • First Round Voting: July 30 – August 8
  • Final Voting Round: September 24 – October 3
  • Winners announced: November 19

Q: I nominated my business, but I don’t see it showing up on the website in the list of nominees. Why is that?

If you’re looking at the site during the nomination period and don’t see a business you nominated, fear not! All valid entries are considered and reviewed. But for a nomination to show up on the site, we must approve it manually. Because we receive thousands of nominations, we can get backlogged.

The good news is your business only must be nominated once to make it to the first round of voting, assuming it met the guidelines. And if it did meet the guidelines, it does not matter if it showed up on the site during the nomination period.

Q: My business was nominated, and I saw it on the website during the nomination period, but it is not showing up in the voting round. Why?

See the guidelines below. After nominations close and before voting opens, our team does its best to vet all nominees. While your business may have appeared during the nomination period, our team may have determined it was ineligible for the voting round.

Q: I missed the nominations period. Can I/my business still be entered in the contest?

Late nominations may be accepted if received promptly after the first voting round opens. They will be reviewed as soon as is practical, and if they meet the criteria for their proposed category, they will be included in the first voting round typically within several days.

Q: I think my business should have made it to the first voting round. How do I register a complaint?

Email us at Best@Vindy.com within 24 hours after the first voting period opens. You must identify the category and tell us why you think your business should have been included.

Like most humans, we sometimes make mistakes, and if we have, we’ll add your business within moments of our decision.

Q: What guidelines are used to determine whether a nominated business qualifies for the first voting round?

Please see the sections below on “Nomination Guidelines” and “Category Exceptions and Special Notes.”

Q: How are the winners selected?

Gold recipients are those that received the most votes in their category. Silver recipients are those that received the second-most votes and bronze recipients are those that received the third-most votes in their category.

If there is a tie, we will announce both.

Q: Why does this contest allow people to nominate/vote every day?

The readers’ choice contest allows daily voting and nominations — once per person per day per category — because daily voting rewards entrants with passionate supporters. With a single vote per person, entrants with the best name recognition have a distinct advantage, as many voters skim over categories and cast their votes casually. Name recognition is an important part of finding the best of the area, but we also want to reward the passionate loyalty some people have for their local favorites, which can be captured in daily voting.

Also: This contest is fundamentally about celebrating and supporting local institutions by raising their profile and helping them gain new fans. With daily voting, the contest raises the visibility of those businesses and organizations that use it to reach out to new and existing customers to ask for their support, through advertising and through their own channels.

Nomination Guidelines:

Our readers’ choice team does its best to vet all nominees. Here are the guidelines we use, with exceptions as noted below:

The nominee must operate in The Vindicator’s coverage area: Mahoning County, the towns/townships of Liberty, Girard & Hubbard in Trumbull County.

In some categories, businesses that are on the border of the coverage area may be deemed eligible at our discretion.

We reserve the right to disqualify a business or organization from a category that does not represent a significant focus of its activities.

Nominees must, in most categories, be open to the public. (That is, no restrictive membership organizations.) Exceptions include golf courses.

Nominations for individual categories, like Real Estate Agent, must include the nominee’s full name and place of business.

Application of our criteria is not an exact science. The Readers’ Choice team uses its best judgment; if you think we’ve made an error, please email Best@Vindy.com.

Category Exceptions and Special Notes:

Health & Wellness: In categories where we asked for practices, we try to exclude individual practitioners, unless they operate solo practices named after themselves. Nominations for individual categories, like Dentist, must include the nominee’s full name and practice name.

Pets: The Veterinarian category is intended for individual practitioners, unless they operate solo practices named after themselves. There is a separate category for veterinary practices (for businesses, not individuals).

Professional Services: Nominations for individual categories, like Accountant, must include the nominee’s full name and business name.

The Insurance Agency category is open to locally based offices or teams of agents or brokers selling insurance directly to buyers. The category is not intended for individual agents, unless they are sole proprietors of an agency or brokerage, in which case that agency or brokerage may be nominated under their name.

We reserve the right to change these guidelines. Check back on this for current guidelines.