I haven't really commented much on this yet since I'm more or less done with the game, but I'll give my best shot to try and be as unbiased as possible.
First, while IQ are telling their members who to vote for, this doesn't constitute putting a gun to their heads and forcing them to vote against their will. Anyone from IQ can still vote for whoever they want, and if they do so they won't get caught. There are still probably a fair amount of IQ members who have done this, and I don't fault them for believing what they believe.
Second, for the IQ members that are vote brigading, while distasteful this is still a fair strategy. I don't see this as any different from real life, where avowed Republicans will always vote Republicans into office and avowed Democrats will always vote Democrats into office regardless of how well they actually know the candidate. Similarly, in the UK in the House of Commons it's frowned upon for a party member to vote contrary to the party, and in the US Congress much the same thing happens (albeit with a few more deviations). If EMC cares so much about winning at least a few of the categories, then they can just adopt the same strategy IQ did and fight a voting war of sorts, at least to release steam from not actually having a war in-game. Being a democratic poll, we should respect the results because that's what a democracy entails.
However, third, I think that IQ needs to understand that their brigading extends beyond their supposed initial intent not to take many of the categories seriously. Bezzers and the rest of AIM worked their butts off to make sure that the voting would proceed smoothly, and the level of disappointment this has caused combined with a total lack of appreciation for the work they've put in disappoints me as well. And seriously AIM - thank you so much for making it happen this year, I was just excited as everyone else waiting for this to happen and I'm glad that it could still continue this year. In addition, the total lack of civility in these threads is detracting from the inherent purpose of these awards itself - to provide an additional boost of confidence and motivation for those that need it to succeed - and there are still voters out there that want this to happen, such as Buorhann and myself.
Finally, fourth and most importantly, the voting highlights some inherent flaws found in every democracy. No matter what, there will always be uneducated voters who are unable to observe the world outside a limited scope, and there are always those who internalize beliefs that others tell them to believe. Indeed, there are probably many in IQ who genuinely believe that who they voted for is the right choice, but there are also those who don't really know what they're voting for or why they should be voting for a certain candidate over another candidate. IQ's argument seems to be resting on the fact that we can't know what their members think and that they voted using their own free will, but the fact of the matter remains that IQ did push a list of candidates to vote for and that there are people who voted for candidates that were not serious choices or that they don't exactly know why is the best choice. I don't blame IQ for this, rather democracy itself, so as said before, as long as there is a winner they should be accepted without so much anger towards IQ. However, what bothers me is what I perceive to be the results of the awards, which are, in and of itself, propaganda. Throughout history, while slightly modified, there's been a phrase that largely remains the same - if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. Disregarding whether these results are lies or not, there are inevitably going to be those that voted along with the horde in order to be part of a group, and as a result of any cognitive dissonance they have as a result, adjust their own opinions to fit with the rest of the group until you could swear that it was their own original idea in the first place.
Inherently, there's nothing wrong with adopting the opinions of others, but I suppose you could say that this isn't exactly the best way to go about it. To those brigading for any candidate, including those from last year's Syndisphere, I sincerely hope that you explore beyond your own sphere and come to your own independent decisions about PnW in general beyond a list or just what you're told by others. And for the current situation, no matter how you portray it, IQ isn't the best at everything, and people shouldn't vote nor act based on those beliefs. Although I'll accept the results of the polls, they don't mean very much to me, but I genuinely hope that overall PnW will become a much more exciting place in my absence and that these polls won't cause hurt and aggression beyond what's happened so far.
Anyways, I'm probably gonna get a lot of tl;dr's and people generally mocking me for bothering to write something this long and stupid, but I guess since I'm going to be gone from forums from now on I just wanted to put some effort into expressing my feelings about all of this.