Hugo Voting Proposal Status Update

By Jameson Quinn: Since the last thread (“To Say Nothing of the Dogs”), there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress in Hugo voting proposals, but it’s still clearly time for an update on various fronts.

To summarize the (tentative) consensus plan developed in the last thread:

  • Ratify EPH this year.
  • Make the following two proposals this year, hopefully to pass and ratify at least one of them.
    • 3SV
      • This means a second round of voting in which the “longlist” of the top 15 from the first round is publicized, and clearly-unworthy works from that list are eliminated if they have enough votes against. It is not intended to deal with mere matters of taste, but merely to insulate against offensive works promoted by slate voters.
      • The text of this proposal is being worked on by a group of (what I’d respectfully characterize as) SMOFs led by Colin Harris. They are behind schedule for various reasons but still plan to reach the finish line.
    • EPH+
      • This means using the Sainte-Laguë divisors with EPH; that is, SDV-LPE-SL, as explained in my paper with Bruce Schneier. To put it in more understandable terms: it’s like EPH, but is slightly harder on works with above-average overlap with other winning works, so that a slate or slates like last years’ puppies could probably average under 3 nominations per category.
      • The text of this proposal is included below.
  • Next year, make one or more of the following two proposals:
    • +2 (or +1) against trolls
      • This is meant to go along with 3SV. It would mean that each voter in the second round could add 2 (or 1) nominations per category for works on the longlist. These nominations would be treated the same as first-round nominations.
      • This would help people make sure that their ballot would have at least one nomination with a viable chance of becoming a finalist, without requiring them to run out and read a full longlist in each category. By doing so, it would help reduce the “long tail” issue, and thus increase the power of non-slate voters. Since slate voters can already ensure they have nominated works on the longlist, their voting power would be largely unaffected.
    • Extend finalists (if it appears necessary)
      • This is also meant to go along with 3SV. It would mean that the elimination ballot would have three options; not just “eliminate” or “keep”, but also “keep but extend”. If a work with a quota of “keep but extend” votes became a finalist, then the number of finalists would be increased by one in that category. This would ensure that slate voters could not push things off the ballot using nominations for things that have non-slate support (such as the puppy support for Sandman: Overture this year).

So, if this is the plan, what still remains to be done in this thread?

  • Discuss whether this plan should be modified (I think not, but I’m open to counterarguments).
  • Settle on a wording for EPH+, find co-signers, and submit the proposal. Current draft is below.
  • Make sure the Colin Harris/ Kevin Standlee group submits their 3SV proposal. For now, I trust that they’re on the job, but if they continue not to have a proposal, I’ll shift that trust to the community to get them back on track.
  • If people want me to be there at WorldCon, then my fundraiser has to be successful. I am very grateful to the people who have so far helped me raise just over $700, but in order to actually go, I’d need $1400. And honestly, I’m hoping to raise even more than that; any excess goes to the Center for Election Science (, which works to bring well-designed, more-democratic voting systems to contexts beyond just the Hugos. (The consequences of poorly-designed intraparty democracy are on full display these days in both the US and UK. And speaking as someone who lived in Guatemala for 10 years, many other countries would be happy to have as much intraparty democracy as those two.) All donations are tax-deductible in the US.
  • Talk about voting systems and/or electoral pathologies in SF stories. For instance: in Too Like the Lightning, (minor spoilers to end of paragraph) one plot point is an asset voting system, that is, one in which voters can vote for any other valid voter, and each person who gets votes exercises power proportional to the number of votes they hold. This is an excellent voting system, and I’d be happy to discuss how it works / doesn’t work with the rest of the plot.

Here’s the proposed wording of EPH+:

(1) Calculation Phase: First, the total number of nominations (the number of ballots on which each nominee appears) from all eligible ballots shall be tallied for each remaining nominee. Next, a single “point” shall be assigned to each nomination ballot. That point shall be divided equally among all remaining nominees on that ballot. each nomination ballot shall give a point or fraction thereof to each remaining nominee on that ballot, according to the number of such remaining nominees, using the following pattern: 1 point for 1 remaining nominee, 1/3 of a point each for 2 remaining nominees, 1/5 of a point each for 3 remaining nominees, 1/7 of a point each for 4 remaining nominees, and 1/9 of a point each for 5 remaining nominees (extending this pattern as needed if a ballot legally has more remaining nominees). Finally, all points from all nomination ballots shall be totaled for each nominee in that category. These two numbers, point total and number of nominations, shall be used in the Selection and Elimination Phases.

Co-signers (all Rot13): Wnzrfba Dhvaa, Pynhqvn Ornpu, Obaavr Jnesbeq, Pngurevar Snore, Naqerj Uvpxrl, Ebtref Pnqraurnq, Qnivq Tbyqsneo, Yrr Rttre, Gnfun Gheare Yraaubss, Fgrira Unygre, Qnivq Jnyynpr.

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65 thoughts on “Hugo Voting Proposal Status Update

  1. I was missing the day when people voted by paper, forcing them to vote exactly once, without the option of changing their votes later.

    Do you also miss trying to figure out what they meant, or reading the handwriting?
    Because I’ll take electronic voting over that. Dealing with handwritten nominations was the worst part of 1984. (The second-worst was people who didn’t read the instructions for the final ballot.)

  2. I need to remember to drop a note to Helsinki recommending better info on what to put in each field and an example which might help if people read it.

    I know this past year many of us had questions about what was being asked for & how to enter it. In a number of cases information given initially was incorrect.

    It would be useful now while members are making initial lists as we read/watch to have the field information and what’s required versus optional for each category and the preferred format up on a website.

  3. Do you also miss trying to figure out what they meant, or reading the handwriting? Because I’ll take electronic voting over that. Dealing with handwritten nominations was the worst part of 1984.

    Surprisingly, I never found that to be much of a problem.

  4. “I do think the problem would be a bit simpler if the free-input forms featured auto-complete. “

    And an easier way for fans to of a TV-series to aggregate votes to one episode instead of over several. Also, should the user interface be defined in the voting rules?

  5. I think that Hampus is right: details of interface should be up to the admins, not bikeshedded here.

    I believe that the work of canonicalizing ballots is not significantly harder for EPH or EPH+ than it is for the current system. Under the current system, you do a first-pass canonicalization, and then if 6th and/or 7th place is close to 5th place, it’s important to double check for ballots that could be those near-winners. In EPH, it’s basically the same story; you want to double check for ballots that could be either of the last two eliminations, especially if either one of them was a close thing.

    I respect the people who make the Hugos work year after year. Their experience is valuable. But in cases like this, where there is a difference of opinion between experienced Hugo admins, I think it’s reasonable for those of us without that experience to use our own judgment. And my judgment tells me that the extra bureaucratic burden of EPH is minimal. Yes, it is a bit of extra work to understand what’s going on, but once you do, the paper-pushing work (digital or analog) is almost the same.

  6. Comments have died down on this thread, and donations have died down on the fundraiser. Unless something happens to change this, I will not be able to come to Worldcon this year.

    What can I do to get the fundraiser across the finish line? We are, after all, so close. I’ve raised $950 of the $1400 goal. I think that if we got just $100 more or so, to within about $300 of the goal, the natural momentum of “almost there” would pull us across; and, hopefully, a little bit past, because the broader cause of voting reform can use the support just as much as the Hugos.

    But as things currently stand, it doesn’t look as if that is happening. And as a relative outsider in the community, I am hesitant to get too pushy with my pitch. I think Mike has been very generous in allowing me to post here several times, and I’m truly grateful, but I don’t want to wear out my welcome. I’ve pushed this fundraiser in the other places I have an online presence (which includes Quora, but not Facebook or Twitter), and I think those places are tapped out too.

    So, if anybody reading here has any ideas, or can help in any way, I’m certainly enthusiastic about that.

    And if I don’t reach the goal, I am truly grateful for all those who generously donated. Your money has gone to, which is a great cause overall, and will help improve election systems in many contexts. Before and during Worldcon, I would be happy to do whatever is possible in terms of attending remotely, responding to any questions, and generally trying to help the business meeting understand the issues. I would absolutely make sure that EPH+ was still submitted as a proposal to this year’s BM, and I hope that it will pass.

    Thanks to all who have participated in this discussion.

  7. OK, I’ll put up up to $100 of my own money. So the fundraiser is now effectively at $1050. Only $350 to go.

  8. @Oskari: Yes, all co-signers are still welcome. Just post your Hugo membership name (rot13’d, if you wish).

    In other news: The fundraiser is nearing completion. Just $75 to go! I hope it blasts past the limit, and raises plenty of money for too. So if you click on that link and see that the goal has been met, I hope you’ll still give whatever you were planning to.

    The group working on the 3SV proposal has told me that they’re close to done with their work too.

  9. Please ask the group working on 3SV to post their proposal here as soon as they have it worked out. Thanks.

  10. Any member of MidAmeriCon II who might want to co-sponsor a proposal to allow the current Worldcon Committee (in practice, the Hugo Award Administration Subcommittee) to add up to two additional finalists from among the Top 15 nominees in a category should go look at the write-up I have done regarding Additional Finalists.

    Note that this is not my proposal. It is actually my wife, Lisa Hayes, who wants to propose it. Lisa doesn’t do e-mail or social media or suchlike. I drafted the proposal for her as I will do so for just about anyone who asks. My parliamentary drafting skills have no bearing on my advocacy for or against a given proposal, but are meant to make proposals clear and understandable, and to also provide in the Maker’s Commentary the “legislative intent” of the proposal, which can be very helpful when trying to interpret the rule in the future.

    You need to be a voting (attending, supporting, or other voting class) member of MidAmeriCon II to co-sponsor this proposal. You do not need to attend the convention. You do not need to attend the Business Meeting, although of course you can’t vote if you’re not there.

  11. Pingback: I Go, Hugo, We All Go, to the MACII Business Meeting | File 770

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