The annual Senbatsu Elections may be a popularity contest, but it’s also one of the most important events for AKB48 and its sister groups. It usually determines how people’s favorite idols get their work for the year. Unfortunately, it seems that the megagroup is skipping this year’s elections.

The official AKB48 blog made the announcement, though it did not reveal why they are skipping the Senbatsu elections this year. It thanked fans and asked for their continued support as well. This will be the first time they won’t implement the elections since they started doing it in 2009.

Last year, HKT48’s Rino Sashihara won last year’s election, making it her fourth victory. Unfortunately, she announced her graduation last December, and will be parting ways with the group after her graduation concert in April. With this year not featuring any Senbatsu Election and last year’s winner graduating soon, it’s still unknown how the idols would be getting their assignments this year.

source: AKB48 Official Blog