grenogs - It's been a while since I posted that message. I like to think that things have changed for the better (at least a bit) around these parts since (lark and I's third round as mods. You'll notice that we include the requirements of the brief in the finals/voting thread now, which (I believe) has helped in to steer voting in the right direction. As for the friends voting for friends issue, I tend to find that it hasn't really been a problem. I'm really easily able to check on who's voting for who, and I find that most people in this community tend to honor the competition's spirit. There are certainly cases of rendering over all else informing people's votes, but that's not really an issue we can affect. And in the cases of friends from outside the community coming in and voting for their friends, I've only got one recorded instance of that, and the (awesome) person came forward and told me such so that the votes could be removed.
As for entrants only voting, that's something I refuse to do. These are community activities, all members of the community should be allowed to vote. I don't believe that having an "earn your vote" system is going to somehow improve our voting system. Weekly activities often have less than 10 entries and I don't believe that the poll should be decided on only 10 votes. Hope that helps.