melanie-amaro_cover_web.jpgNEW YORK — Simon Cowell doesn't use Twitter but he wants X Factor fans to use the site to vote for their favorite contestants. The Fox show announced that beginning Nov. 2, fans can cast a ballot by sending a direct message over Twitter to the official X Factor account. Viewers can also cast a ballot on the show's Facebook page and its official website.

“It's a sign of the times,” said Cowell, who believes more votes will come in as a result of expanding the process.

“Sites like Twitter and Facebook give (the audience) a much bigger voice.''

Aside from social media, votes can be sent the old fashioned way, by making a phone call or sending a text message and by using a special App created for Verizon Android devices.

Cowell uses the Internet to gauge what people think of the series so far. He goes online during and after the show to see what people are saying and plans to join Twitter once he learns “how to type quicker.”

The show is averaging about 12.5 million viewers an episode, but one thing that's hindered it in recent weeks is the Major League Baseball World Series. Games on Fox pre-empted the show leading to confusion among viewers and causing some DVRs to not record X Factor.

Cowell says the conflict has been frustrating but they “knew in advance this was going to happen.” He believes the ratings have been consistent so far and word of mouth will get people to tune in.

With the competition heating up, so has the tension among its judges, who are each mentoring a class of contestants. Cowell has the girls. LA Reid is mentoring the boys. Paula Abdul is helping the groups and Nicole Scherzinger has the solo acts over 30 years old.

Cowell says Abdul claims to have the hardest category to mentor, but disagrees with her. He mentored the groups in the U.K. version of the show and “loved doing it.”

“Right now each judge has someone in their category who could win the show,” he said. “But if I had to bet on it, I'd back me.”


Photo: Melanie Amaro