Under the old rules, you added up the judges' ordinal ranking with the audience's ordinal ranking, and the lowest total won. In the case of a tie, the audience vote was the tiebreaker. So, for example, in the last season's final, we had something like Drew: judges 1st, audience 2nd = total 3 Jerry: judges 3rd, audience 1st = total 4 Stacy: judges 2nd, audience 3rd = total 5 (we don't know for sure what the relative popularity of Drew and Jerry was, so I'm hypothesizing here) Under this scenario, it's easy to figure out the order of the final placements as Drew, Jerry, Stacy. However, if the audience vote had come out differently, we get a different scenario: Drew: judges 1st, audience 3rd = total 4 Jerry: judges 3rd, audience 1st = total 4 Stacy: judges 2nd, audience 2nd = total 4 In this case, where the audience vote is the exact reverse of the judge vote, you move on to the next level of tiebreaker, which is the audience vote. In that case, the final result is Jerry, Stacy, Drew. So even though Drew was first with the judges, he could still be last in the group, if the audience votes aligned exactly right (which many of us worried about at the time). However, it was impossible for the audience's favorite to come in last (and be eliminated) under the old system. Under the new system, the magnitude of the vote matters, not just the order. So Say-ra has to get a lot more audience vote to make up for the drubbing she got from the judges (which she is doing, much to my chagrin).