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.