You are well aware of my feelings about AI and it's like.
That aside I agree 100% with your comments about voting.
We had a local Scots lad who recently won The X factor the UK equiv of AI.
He was probably one of the worst of a bad bunch. He had A poor voice, no stage presence was pitchy and very amateurish in every way. No way did he deserve to win.
The Scottish press and local mall where he worked did a huge media hype to encourage voting for him. It worked.
Scottish folk multiple voted for him in their masses.
One of my wife's colleagues summed it up. "He is not the best but I am voting for him cause he is Scottish."
I am sure that the same sort of criteria applies to a lot of these comps. Good looks, personality, race, creed, religion, the actual song rather than performance, locality and M/F all will be reasons why people voted long before talent plays a part.
It is just pot luck given all these variables that the winner is really the best singer.