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. @Sparkle
    No, I don’t imagine. Even though you buy it to vote, you’re buying an advance supporting membership for 2023’s Worldcon wherever it is. You will be able to nominate and vote in that year’s Hugos.

  2. I’m still not clear if my vote even counts, because I typed the “signature” in a handwriting font in the form-fillable .pdf I sent back.

    Anyone know if that counts as a signature for voting purposes?

  3. @Nicholas Whyte
    I was going to say that too, but then thought about that also requiring another purchase of a 2025 supporting membership.

  4. @Cassy, it does not. It will be counted as No Preference.

    /Former Site Selection Admin

  5. I assume any video coverage of the site selection ratification at the business meeting will be members only.

    If so could some kind soul live tweet the meeting?

  6. A resolution isn’t advisory if it was proposed by the administrator seeking guidance on how to interpret the rules. The resolution is obviously going to be treated like it was binding and votes are going to be thrown out, which is an absolute sham.

    Is it true that Chengdu was not informed of this resolution in advance and was not part of the discussion it at the meeting? Because that would make this even worse.

  7. Deirdre Saoirse Moen tweeted a photo of the results saying
    “Included in the Pre-con totals were 1591 ballots from China missing a street address, but otherwise valid.”

    If these had been discarded Winnipeg would have won (I think).

  8. Interesting that 900odd tokens were sold but never applied to ballots, which suggests many Chinese failed to get their vote through the system. I expect Chengdu will sort them out. Good that very few ballots were actually rejected.

  9. I would not be the least bit surprised if many people gave up at the point they discovered the system expected them to first print and then scan the signed paperwork. Kids don’t have printers. They expect to be able to do everything on their phone.

  10. I didn’t print a anything. You don’t have to. PDF form fill and signature tools work and are accepted.

  11. @Nick, absolutely. I am 30 and go into my office or the library to print. You want a fax? I need assistance operating that thing lol.

    Also, firstly time voting on site selection and the process was so confusing. Wouldn’t be shocked if I did it wrong.

  12. Lots of the Chengdu fans are students and the system was wildly opaque to them. Props to all the site selection staff who worked very very hard on this!

  13. I filled mine without printing too. Typing in fields and “drawing” my signature with a stylus. But it is still very convoluted. Even though I’ve done it before and my first (and pretty much only) language is English.

  14. So what the hell was even the point of the resolution? Just nuking the rep of everyone involved including the WSFS for no reason, since it wasn’t followed anyway, because address-less forms were validated just fine apparently, despite the form saying addresses were needed? /exasperation intensifies

  15. I’m in my 60s. I’m cranky when I can’t complete something fully online.

    I went to FedEx to print, sign, and scan the ballot I filled in electronically. But I was cranky about this stupid kludge. And I have no idea how accessible similar services are in China.

    Chengdu won. I’m really not happy about that, but given all the bad decisions and bad behavior, even from someone I normally respect, it’s the least-bad outcome this year. Can we now officially call DisCon III a disaster?

  16. All non-disasterous Woldcons are alike; each disastrous Worldcon is disastrous in its own way.

  17. I supported the Winnipeg bid because I really liked the local Winnipeg fans that I met in ’94. I do not support the resolution. It is unfortunate and unfair that the local fans will be associated with this, through no fault of their own. The Winnipeg in 2023 bid committee owes an apology to WSFS and also to the local Winnipeg fans.

  18. Pingback: Chengdu Wins 2023 Worldcon Site Selection Vote | File 770

  19. So what the hell was even the point of the resolution?

    Surely the point was to get those 1,591 votes thrown out by giving Tim Sczesuil cover to take that action by giving him a WSFS vote that supported it. Otherwise why do it?

    That it did not happen suggests that leaders at DisCon III stopped it from happening — perhaps the same people who were so upset by the release of country data that they replaced the Business Meeting chair.

    If DisCon leaders did take the thumb off the scale, it’s a shame they didn’t act sooner and prevent the site selection administrator from introducing the resolution at all.

  20. Memories are long. I will not be looking with favor on future Winnipeg bids, no matter who they are against

    I also regret my vote for them, now.

  21. I also regret my vote for them, now.

    I’ve never felt better about not getting my shit together in time to vote for a site bid.

  22. Doug on December 18, 2021 at 3:07 am said:
    Lest we forget, Winnipeg stretched interpretations of the rules to get on the ballot at all.

    I have forgotten (or never knew in the first place.
    What happened?

  23. Yep as many people are saying Site Selection needs to be dragged into the modern world. The process is just annoyingly stuck in the past and has been for the past 15 years or more.

    The signature isn’t a form fillable field – at least in the copy of the ballot I’ve seen.

    As other people (maybe elsewhere) have said the physical street address is never verified and for a number of people probably cannot be verified correctly. Addresses are hard to do right from a data pov.

    Name, voting token and email address would seem to be fine as verification (and I presume it is easily verifiable) that it is coming from a ‘known’ voter (as in someone with a valid membership and who has paid the site selection fee).

  24. The original deadline for bids (based on the original DisConIII dates) was passed. DisCon said they weren’t reopening this when it was moved to December. But they decided to allow Winnipeg. I think DisCon should have reopened site bidding based on the new dates in the first place.

  25. @Laura: That feels to me like DisCon tacitly acknowledging what they should’ve done, but I agree with you they should’ve simply reopened it. (Though I doubt there were any other potential bids interested.) Reopening: More correct, less confusing, no appearance of inconsistency.

  26. Andrew (not Werdna) on December 18, 2021 at 8:20 am said:
    Disastrous spelling, I see

    You’re the best, Andrew (not Werdna). I don’t say this often enough, but I value and appreciate your contributions here.

  27. Nicholas Whyte writes (but I am quoting out of order):

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

    As you say, the extent to which the Business Meeting has influence on the Site Selection process is for future site selections. It really doesn’t have power over either past, or ongoing.

    Nobody from the other bid appears to have been present for the debate. Did they even know it was happening?

    Don\t know if they knew that specific debate was ongoing, but I would say hat a bid that’s up for selection not having representatives at the business meeting does, to my mind, indicate at least a slight unsuitability to host WorldCon. Or, at least, a misunderstanding of the importance of the Business Meeting. And I do find that concerning. Not enough that I think Chengdu should not get their well-won 2023 WorldCon.

    Even so, it was a proposal that did not come from a place of honour. I am somehwat disappointed in the proposers.

  28. Andrew (not Werdna) wrote:

    “All non-disasterous Woldcons are alike; each disastrous Worldcon is disastrous in its own way.”

    Thank you for that laugh (with a side order of “Yep”). Seconding Brown Robin’s appreciation of your work. May I quote that line on Twitter (with misspelling corrected)?

  29. I’m still not clear if my vote even counts, because I typed the “signature” in a handwriting font in the form-fillable .pdf I sent back.

    Anyone know if that counts as a signature for voting purposes?

    Johan Anglemark on December 18, 2021 at 6:49 am said:
    @Cassy, it does not. It will be counted as No Preference.

    This may have been done but is quite at odds with normal legal practice. There is nothing magic about “writing your signature with a pen in cursive” in the law. Many contracts today are signed using simply the typing of the name. I sign almost all documents and contracts either with typing, or sometimes pasting an image of a “real” signature I scanned into the image. This is fully legal. A signature is just evidence that a person personally endorsed their agreement to something, and it can even be just making an “X.” If it becomes disputed if a person signed something, it certainly can help a little bit if the signature was a scrawl only that person knows how to make done in fresh wet ink, but in reality that’s not that big a deal right now.

    As such, if past voting administrators discarded documents signed using typing, they did so based on an interpretation quite at variation with legal practice.

    Now, without casting any aspersion on the ballots, clearly this vote came from a massive campaign to buy supporting memberships in the host country. I told the chair of the Jeddah bid that this would never fly. I was wrong.

  30. If it were a state organised campaign it would have been a lot less chaotic. It looks like students triggered by a voteathon to me.

  31. Indeed. If it was state sponsored, you think they wouldn’t be able to supply physical addresses? Anyone who knows anything about Chinese fandom (in the general sense) knows that they are amazingly good at crowd-based campaigns, to the point where the state has been trying to crack down on it the last few months. And there are a lot of science fiction fans in China.

  32. Paul Weimer said:
    Memories are long. I will not be looking with favor on future Winnipeg bids, no matter who they are against

    Don’t look down on future Winnipeg bids; instead, look at who signed the resolution, or bid members that spoke in favor of it, and look down on bids (and/or conventions) that those specific people are working on. The local Winnipeg fans were not the issue.

  33. Don’t look down on future Winnipeg bids; instead, look at who signed the resolution …

    The resolution calling for a rules interpretation that would have disqualified 1,591 votes, handing Winnipeg the victory, was co-authored by Winnipeg bid chair Terry Fong and vice chair Jannie Shea.

    Can’t say I’m looking up at future Winnipeg bids.

  34. Can’t say I’m looking up at future Winnipeg bids.

    Per Winnipeg’s own bid page, neither one of them currently resides in Winnipeg, and I do not believe that they are from Winnipeg either.
    https://main.winnipegin2023.ca/about/

    However, I believe Jannie is the current chair of next year’s SMOFcon – in Montreal. And both are very active in Worldcon fandom and convention running; not just in Canada.

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

    No, they did not. Their filing was absolutely legitimate under the bid filing rules in the WSFS Constitution.

    The chairs of the Winnipeg bid have plenty of things for which to answer, but their bid filing is not one of them.

  36. The original deadline for bids (based on the original DisConIII dates) was passed. DisCon said they weren’t reopening this when it was moved to December. But they decided to allow Winnipeg.
    — Laura

    While the DisCon III announcement regarding the filing of the Winnipeg bid was worded as though it was “allowed” as a result of noblesse oblige on their part, the only thing DisCon III actually did was follow the rules of the WSFS Constitution, as they were required to do.

    If they had not done so, I think it very likely that DisCon III would have been the recipient of some sort of official censure by the Business Meeting for violating the WSFS Constitution, in addition to a great deal of unofficial public censure on social media.

  37. This just proves that the current method of site selection is not fit for purpose.
    — Pat McMurray

    No, it’s not fit for purpose, and it’s been in need of updating for some time. Worldcon members should be able to buy a token and participate in Site Selection via a completely online process, just as they are now able to do with the Hugo Award nomination and voting.

    The delay in updating this system is the result of some bidcom members not being willing to trust the integrity of such a system. But bidcom members need to recognise that with the advent of electronic registration and the ability to receive all Worldcon publications electronically, the days of Worldcons being able to verify that a Worldcon member is a “natural person” are long gone.

    Members may have very valid reasons for not supplying a physical address for their membership, and just because a member supplies an address, it doesn’t ensure that it is actually that member’s address. Would we really want or expect Worldcons to have staff Googling members’ names and addresses, and questioning anyone whom they are unable to verify? I’d give that idea a resounding “NO”.

    I think it’s high time that the WSFS rules regarding Site Selection were revised to make it possible for voters to participate in the process by entirely electronic means. The “But how else can we ensure that they’re not bogus double voters?” ship sailed a long time ago, and it’s never coming back.

  38. All non-disasterous Woldcons are alike; each disastrous Worldcon is disastrous in its own way.
    — Andrew (not Werdna)

    That’s a funny saying, but it’s true. I can’t remember the last time there was a non-disastrous Worldcon; the only thing that varies is the magnitude of the disaster. 😆

  39. I think I said over a year ago that this Business Meeting could have credibility/perceived validity issues due to likely problems for all the attendees that you would normally expect getting to it. Differing risk tolerances, additional risks and frictions in travel must have impacted the make-up of those in the room, along with the short notice of the validation motion.

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