I don't really see why we are worried to the level that we are. The capabilities of the forum and what we can do with it are basically what we are doing, we are pretty limited by choice.
all it comes down to is if you want single or multiple votes. And at the level of professional type competition we are holding, it may as well be open to everyone to vote, it's not like anyone ever reads the rules that are going to say "votes are only allowed by those who submitted photos" people are going to come in and see a pole and vote, not read anything.
I think we are tied down and don't have a choice unless we take this off to a different system alltogether and create a Flickr page (or similar) and only provide the link to the regular users, but as we are on a public forum, that kinda gets iffy on it's own as we'd be stopping any new individuals who might be interested in joining the group from being interested.
If we take this to a new level, i think we will alienate any potential new commers.
I'd love to see the layout and voting system change, but there really is nothing we can do logically without pissing off eachother, the forum, the community, and etc.
Right now, it works, granted to a limited level, but it works all the same, and it's about as good as it's going to get without actually making anything worse.
and when you look at other photography sites they are set up similarily too, there's just no way around it.
If you want lots of extra votes, once a week when the pole is made, start a new thread in General, linking to the poll thread, then you can get away with single votes, and who knows, we might start to see more participants in the future that didn't know we had a photography section.