DisCon III Business Meeting Keeps Lodestar, Best Series; Passes Controversial Resolution About Site Selection

The DisCon III business meeting today voted to retain the Lodestar Award and Best Series Hugo category. Both were up for a re-ratification vote before being permanently added to the WSFS Constitution.

The Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book passed by an “easy majority”.  

The Best Series Hugo category passed in a close vote.

 The meeting also passed a controversial resolution advising the Site Selection administrator that he reclassify as “No Preference” votes those ballots lacking any of four pieces of information specified in the motion.

The motion was signed by two leaders of the Winnipeg in 2023 bid, bid chair Terry Fong, and vice-chair Jannie Shea.

Short Title: Required Site Selection Information

Resolved, That it is the sense of the WSFS Business Meeting that any Site Selection ballot that does not contain a Membership Number, Name, Signature, and Address that meets the country of origin’s requirements should be counted as “No Preference.”

When it came to the floor, however, Site Selection administrator Tim Szczesuil said he was requesting the meeting’s guidance. He pointed to the relevant part of the WSFS Constitution, rule 4.4.1, and said it was “somewhat ambiguous with respect to what is required of the voter.” The rule reads —

4.4.1: Site-selection ballots shall include name, signature, address, and membership-number spaces to be filled in by the voter. Each site-selection ballot shall list the options “None of the Above” and “No Preference” and provide for write-in votes, after the bidders and with equal prominence. The supporting membership rate shall be listed on all site-selection ballots.

“The way it, to me, it could be read either as the ballot is required to have four items – I think it’s the name, the address, the signature, and the member number. Or it could be that the member has to include that information on the ballot.”

Potentially, the resolution can lead to ballots lacking any of the four items not having their preference for Chengdu or Winnipeg counted toward determining the winner.

Ben Yalow spoke against the resolution, saying he considered the rule “incredibly clear” that it was about the spaces for certain information which must be on the ballot, not what the voter must fill in.

The business meeting chair Don Eastlake turned over the meeting to another officer so he could go to the floor and speak in favor of the resolution, “I do not believe we should allow anonymous or semi-anonymous people who don’t provide enough information or don’t provide a name or haven’t signed [the ballot] to affect site selection…” Dave McCarty’s comment in support of the motion was that address information is needed “to be able to tell if they are real people.”

The site selection validation process doesn’t ever take time to test voters’ residence/mail address information and make a judgment about it. The two critical factors are that the voter must have a membership in the current Worldcon, and that the payment of the site selection voting fee must clear. However, a person could do everything required to become a member of the current Worldcon, DisCon III, and still fail a 2023 site selection voting requirement. For example, Eastlake pointed out a past practice that people who fail to sign their ballots do not get their votes counted, although they still get a supporting membership in the new convention.  

The business meeting passed the resolution 47-30. Because it is a resolution, it is not binding. However, since he requested it, File 770 has asked Site Selection administrator Tim Szczesuil to comment how he will apply the resolution.

OTHER BUSINESS. Kevin Standlee reports on his LiveJournal that the meeting ratified all nine of the constitutional amendments passed on from last year’s Worldcon. “These amendments were initially passed in Ireland, then technically rejected and then re-passed in New Zealand, in order to evade the problem that hardly any WSFS members could actually get to the meeting in Wellington.”

The nine items are E.3 to E.11 in the business meeting Agenda.

117 thoughts on “DisCon III Business Meeting Keeps Lodestar, Best Series; Passes Controversial Resolution About Site Selection

  1. My English language site selection ballot stated that an unsigned ballot would be counted as “no preference.” It seems fair to reinforce that tradition due to each ballot warning the voter. But the ballot also stated that I should fill in “membership number (if known).” If the ballot itself allows for a member to leave the membership number blank if not remembered, or otherwise unknown, I don’t think the business meeting should be allowed to override the intent of the instructions printed on the ballot.

  2. I’ve lost track. Is the next part the one where someone in face paint and buffalo horns storms the site selection count to prevent it being certified because they bid they don’t like its going to win?

  3. The resolution is sleazy as hell if you ask me. Proposed by the Winnipeg bid, essentially giving the person counting the votes cover to throw out enough Chengdu ballots to ensure Winnipeg wins. No notice given to the Chengdu bid to defend themselves. And of course, many of those Chengdu ballots will have been filled out by people who don’t have previous experience and who also come from an environment where using an email address as an identifier may be a great deal safer than putting your real name and address in.

    It’s a very… Republican way of doing things. I’ve got a lot of qualms about the Chengdu bid myself, but shame on Winnipeg for proposing this, and the Business meeting for voting it through.

  4. This site selection resolution is very bad.

    Saying that it is merely advisory? Weasel words. Of course it’s meant to steer the site selection administrator on how to conduct this year’s vote. He explicitly asked for guidance. The chair rejected a motion to postpone because tomorrow would be “too late” to affect the count.

    The business meeting has no authority over the site selection process. The site selection administrator should not have asked its advice, and the Chair of the Business Meeting should have refused to accept the resolution, whether proposed by the site selection administrator or anyone else. Authority actually lies with the Worldcon committee as a whole, not the business meeting.

    To make matters worse, the resolution as circulated in the room was signed by the co-Chair of one of the bids. Nobody from the other bid appears to have been present for the debate. Did they even know it was happening?

    As it is we have a resolution which would invalidate site selection votes for not getting the signatures right, which itself was circulated to those at the meeting with incorrect signatures.

    And if you want to get into the substance, voters who diligently filled in the ballot according to the instructions printed on the ballot should not be expected to go check the Constitution. If the ballot as printed was deficient, and I am not even clear that it was, voters whose identity and intent are clear should not be penalised.

    This is a truly disappointing development.

  5. Oh, we understand that you filled in the ballot, and we know Chengdu is full of enthusiastic SF fans. But you didn’t read the WSFS constitution! I know it wasn’t in Chinese, but it was plainly on display on the Internet.

    “It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

    This is not WSFS’s finest moment.

  6. I wish I could take back my vote for the Winnipeg site. If this is the way that they conduct themselves when things aren’t going their way I don’t know if I’ll come. This was my first WSFS meeting and I don’t understand all the minutia or history of everything. When the resolution was being passed around, I leaned over and asked the Winnipeg people why they were doing this. They needed a moment to respond to my question and when they did respond they stated it was about “providing a product “. If you don’t fill out the proper information, “how am I to provide a product “. This argument was never mentioned in the for/against speeches and rang to me as extremely hollow since if an individual had a receipt for their supporting membership, surely it cannot be to hard for con admins to add additional information at a later date (which seems to be pretty common since you can transfer membership in the like).

    This was a major optics fail. I hope those that stood in favor of providing this guidance are proud of themselves as they showed that they have ZERO intention of allowing the Chinese people the ability to enjoy their own worldcon after working for years. Diversity and inclusion doesn’t actually matter to WSFS.

  7. This just proves that the current method of site selection is not fit for purpose. The process for off-site voting as run by Discon 3 involved buying a membership, then logging in and setting up your membership, then separately buying a voting token.
    You then download your ballot, fill it in, including your voting token, follow the complicated instructions, sign it, scan it and email it to WSFS.

    WSFS then validate it in complicated methods and against complicated criteria which are not always clear to the voter and actually count the votes. Something that should have taken five minutes on a website took a lot of faffing about and lots of effort.

    The other really angry point I want to make is that about 40% of the world lives in places without addresses, the decision to require a postal address disenfranchises billions of people… And many of them the world’s poorest people, not rich white North Americans and Europeans. Monstrous, monstrous decision.

  8. Seriously, wtf do they need my postal address? It’s not like anyone’s going to post me anything, and it just provides extra information for the inevitable data leak.

  9. Lest we forget, Winnipeg stretched interpretations of the rules to get on the ballot at all.

    Lots of concerns about Worldcon in a Chinese dictatorship, but Winnipeg not exactly covering itself in the glory of a worthy Canadian initiative.

  10. I thought this was something to implement for next year? You can’t suddenly change demands in the middle of voting. This is ridiculous. What the hell is going on?

    This should be too late to affect the count for this year.

  11. This feels like a Voter ID moment. (For non-Americans, that is a tactic used by Republicans to reduce the number of Democratic votes.)

  12. @Hampus: This apparently isn’t a rule change per se. The site selection administrator was asking for “clarification ” and the motion passed was to provide the sought after clarification. The instructions are not binding and can basically be ignored next year. It seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors to me but what do I know?

  13. I’m pleasantly surprised that Worldcon members found a constitutional way to (maybe) counter the constitutional way that the communist Chinese government-by-proxy stuffed the ballot box (the way they used the cover of “truly enthusiastic Chinese fans” was expected though executed brilliantly)…

    This is how things work in a democracy. Be glad you were given the opportunity to vote.

  14. Sparkle I think timing and process matters here. Normally the Site Selection Administrator would complete the current election and any learnings might result in a motion coming to the next Business Meeting to update the Constitution. It’s a big step to seek clarification while the current ballot is mid-flight, and it will be seen as many as the senior legislative body being willing to do anything necessary to reverse the result of an open vote. I don’t know if it’s completely unprecedented but I can’t think of anything comparable in the 20-odd years I’ve attended Business Meetings.

  15. I checked the form and it does say in the guidance that all those fields ought to be filled in for validation purposes, but doing this mid-count, proposed by one of the bids, and without – apparently? – any Chengdu bid members present and aware and speaking their bit, well, I could understand people feeling very hard done by depending on the result.

    The page you fill in, if anyone skipped the guidance, only says that if the signature is missing and it can be otherwise validated then it will be counted as No Preference. Validation still requires the other fields, according to the guidance, so this isn’t exactly new. But the optics aren’t pretty.

  16. …and with Chengdu probably having no idea this was going on and no chance to have any say.

    But yay for Best Series and Lodestar being ratified! As well as 5 and 6 and the definition of “public” in the artist categories!

  17. How I wish I was site selection AH this year so I could stuff that resolution up someone’s arse. If this resolution is followed and Winnipeg wins because of it, Winnipeg can not call itself Worldcon. We truly live in the era ushered in by Trump.

  18. It might be useful if a Chinese-fluent fan could (please) describe for us anglophones what Site Selection instructions told voters about the four fields Friday’s resolution discussed. Those instructions are online. Xièxiè. (Thank you.)

  19. Changing the rules mid-election is a very bad idea. Scrutiny guidelines need to be agreed with all parties well in advance. An advisory motion is the worst sort, it needs to be a proper motion ratified over several years. That Winnipeg requested it lowers my opinion of them

  20. Congratulations Winnipeg bid. You succeeded where the puppies failed. I was not keen on the Chengdu bid but Fran is right, the WSFS has earned my no confidence and at a guess that of the vast majority of Winnipeg supporters.
    Well done folks.

  21. What everyone (except Steve Davidson) said. I also wish I could take back my Winnipeg vote.

  22. I was very disappointed about this since there are a lot of Chinese fans who are still college students got themselves and other fans to vote, definitely not some robot or proxy or puppet. 100 dollars are a lot of money to them and many of them almost drained their savings to do this and they were showing proudly those response emails telling that their votes had been accepted. The email also mentioned that should there be any problems about the vote, we will get noticed, but no. Then suddenly this. So discouraging.

  23. @Lenore Jones: Nice one. But I note that you did not take factual issue with anything that I wrote.

    So far as I recall, it has always been that those in the room during the business meeting are the only votes that are counted.

    I’ve read nothing anywhere that suggests that people from outside the business meeting contributed to the vote to pass this resolution.

    The timing of votes is a long hallowed political tradition.

  24. I think most people here rely on the good sense of those at the BM to do the right thing, and are very grateful they don’t need to give up their time to supervise the process. Any particular session can have anomalous votes, but the point of the ratification process is that the publicity draws in people to fix problems. Motions like this seem to subvert that.

  25. It might well be that only people in the business meeting contributed to the resolution, but only one bid were unable to attend because their visas were refused.

  26. The business meeting should not have been passing resolutions about an ongoing site selection process in the first place.

    The fact that only one side knew about this in advance makes it even worse.

  27. Some questions

    What happens to the ballots if the motion to destroy them is defeated? This is something that might, and perhaps should, happen if the result is as controversial as seems possible.

    Should the business meeting vote to preserve the ballots?

    Have any ‘rejected’ ballots had their voter information detached from the actual vote as is done for ‘valid’ ballots.

    If ballots are preserved do we have any idea what process might be used to review decisions on ballot eligibility? If we take the request for guidance at face value it must indicate that there are difficult decisions to be made that the site selection staff are unsure about. It is important that those decisions are taken in the most open way possible, while protecting any specific identifying information about members

  28. Different Culture treats personal information differently. Tele-fraud is the most common crime in China. And lots of criminals are operating oversea. People try to protect their address details. If someone can call you by the right name, know where you live, and have your detailed address, your elder family member will be a much easier target. Fruad can tell the elder that you are in trouble, need to send money to them to help you.That’s why Chinese voters commonly leave a shorter address. We already give you our name and e-mail, if you wanna check the person, you can contact them by the e-mail. That is enough information.
    Joking: As a Philip K. Dick fan, what happen on the business meeting makes wonder if there is any FBI agents or fruads among us, harvesting personal information.

  29. I was present in the business meeting and argued against this resolution specifically on the basis that it will damage the reputation of WSFS far more than any possible situation it is trying to address. I believe I also referenced the irony of vote suppression, though I may not have been entirely clear on that point.

    And for the record, I am an enthusiastic Winnipeg supporter and have serious reservations both about Chengdu as a venue and about the intense coordinated campaign to pull in Chengdu votes from people who probably had never heard of Worldcon a month ago. And yet the honor and integrity of the process means far more to me.

    I was not the only person arguing against it from principles despite personal preference. This was far from a unanimous vote.

  30. This is why things are normally put on the agenda in advance and timing is considered … for example, E.11 was voted earlier yesterday to accommodate someone who had to leave. At the very least, the resolution should have been brought forward during the preliminary meeting on Thursday and debate planned for Friday’s meeting so Chengdu had a chance to have a say. But clearly Winnipeg did an end run around that.

  31. I have now emailed site selection and formally withdrawn my vote.

    I’ll see if I can get someone to hand-carry a new vote. I have now lost confidence in the Winnipeg bid.

  32. Heather Rose Jones has put it very well. It just looks really bad whatever the intent might be.

  33. Tele-fraud is the most common crime in China. Lots of criminals are operating oversea. People try to protect their address details. If someone can call you by the right name, know where you live, and have your detailed address, your elder family member will be a much easier target. They can tell the old you are in trouble, need to send money to them to help you. Especially when you study or work in another city, and the fraud are pretending be some kind of authority figure. That’s why Chinese voters commonly leave a shorter address.

    As a Philip K. Dick fan, I really wanna make jokes about there are FBI agents or frauds among us, harvesting personal information. But this is worse, this is discrimination.

  34. I’m curious on this. What happens to those supporting memberships that the Chinese fans purchased? Will that be refunded since the entire reason they purchased was for site selection?

  35. There wouldn’t be a refund if someone bought a supporting membership and failed to vote in the Hugos.

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