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Why am I doing this? Got me. I think I’m doing it because the Hugo Award is important to me. It’s the one award I believe has significance outside our insular community. It has name ID, and that has power. Data also has power. With data we can explain the world around us. We can break something down into its component parts and understand how it works. If we understand how something we works, we fear it less. When you fear something less, you want to get involved in it more. And, ultimately, I believe the future of fandom, and thus the Hugo Award, is contingent on getting people involved. So here I am, breaking down the Hugo Award data. I want to show not just who won, but why they won and, in some cases, how they got on the ballot in the first place. This is going to be an honest piece. I’m not going disseminate and try to explain away a broken system. Because let’s be honest… the Hugo Award is a little broken. But, hopefully, at the end of it, we’ll have a better understanding of who won, how they won, and whether or not we’re comfortable with the process we operate under.

How the Hugo Award Voting Works

Ok, all the votes are in and we have a bunch of piles of paper. First, we sort those piles of paper based on first place voters. We end up, theoretically, with six piles. One for each of the nominees and the ever present No Award. Because I like round numbers, let’s say the piles look like this:

Novel 1 500
Novel 2 400
Novel 3 300
Novel 4 200
Novel 5 100
No Award 10

Because there were 1510 ballots cast, the winner needs 757 votes to win. Since Novel 1 only has 500 first place votes, it does not have enough votes to win. Thus, we have to move to second place votes and rescore it. So, we eliminate the lowest vote getter. In this case, that’s No Award, which received 10 votes. Those 10 votes are then redistributed based on what was ranked second on all ballots that ranked No Award first. Let’s assume since they ranked No Award first, they ranked nothing else. Those 10 ballots are set aside. Then, Novel 5 is eliminated and its ballots are redistributed based on who was ranked second. Let’s assume for ease of use, that all 100 ballots ranked Novel 1 second. Now, our piles look like this:

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