Hugo Voters Asleep at the Switch?

Hugo Administrator Mary Kay Kare is a bit anxious that her in-box is not filling with Hugo nominating ballots as rapidly as she’d like. She told Denvention 3 LiveJournal readers: “The Administrator would like to point out that nominations close in slightly over 5 weeks, and so far, she has received fewer than 100 nominating ballots.”

That’s not many. Hopefully there are a lot more coming. Looking back over the past dozen years, Worldcons typically receive 400-500 nominating ballots.

Of course, her concerns can only be magnified by the fact that Denvention 3’s deadline of March 1 may be the earliest in history. After many years when it fell in late March, the nominating deadline has slipped progressively closer to the beginning of the month — now it’s finally there:

  • Denvention 3, March 1

  • Nippon 2007, March 3

  • L.A.con IV, March 10

  • Interaction, March 11

  • Noreascon 4, March 25

  • Torcon 3, March 31

  • ConJose, March 31

  • Millennium Philcon, March 31

  • Chicon 2000, March 31

Thank goodness 2008 is a Leap Year, so fans have 60 days to respond. And they may very well respond. Nippon 2007 used a comparable deadline and still received 409 ballots.

Holding the Worldcon in early August instead of early September obviously forces committees to move the various Hugo deadlines earlier on the calendar. Mary Kay’s public expression of concern prompts me to wonder if there is a diminishing return involved — the deadline can be set so early voters become discouraged from participating. Here in January, with the eligibility year barely over, people need time to sift through their favorite stories and compare notes. She’s watching closely, and if in mid-February the trend still hasn’t righted itself I hope she will consider extending the deadline.

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4 thoughts on “Hugo Voters Asleep at the Switch?

  1. Pingback: Science Fiction Awards Watch » Blog Archive » Nomination Slowdown?

  2. Personally, I’ve been waiting for the February issue of LOCUS, which is always the survey issue covering everything published in the previous year. I use it as a memory prod when nominating in the Hugos, and I doubt very much that I’m the only longtime Hugo participant to do so.

  3. Yes, and I count on the discussion about the major recommendation lists to get me thinking about items worth adding to the 15-20 nominees I already know will be on my ballot.

    Hugo Administrators always issue periodic reminders to vote, but not with this anxious tone, and they rarely (if ever) reveal preliminary voting figures. Like Cheryl, I would assume voting ramps up as the deadline approaches.

  4. Having been a Hugo Administrator three times myself, I’m not especially worried. Nearly all of the nominations arrive during the last few days of the process no matter when you set the deadline. If the deadline is extended a couple of weeks, then the spike will come two weeks later instead. The fact that we can nominate on-line now simply exacerbates this trend. And there are groups like BASFA who are still working through their recommendation lists. We won’t finish our meetings on this until this Monday, so the club’s recommendation lists won’t be published until mid-February. I know I’m waiting until late in the month to see what’s on the various recommendation lists before making up my mind.

    So I’d counsel MK to not panic, nor to panic on the last few days of the nomination period when a flood of e-mail arrives announcing new nomination ballots arriving. But whatever D3’s on-line voting PIN recovery scheme is, it had better be working on the last day of the nominating period, because I’ll bet money there will be people trying to nominate that day who don’t have their PINs and will be desperately trying to recover them.

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