March 25th, 2014

Hugo Logo

A Blast from the Hugo Past

Tom Whitmore, going through the files of Alva Rogers, found a copy of the 1964 Hugo Awards Final Ballot voting results, and I've posted them to the Hugo Awards web site. Back in those days, voting was "first past the post," meaning that the winner was whoever had more votes than any other nominee, not necessarily (or even likely) a majority.

Discounting the entries for "No Vote," (blanks, abstentions, etc.), which shouldn't count toward the number of ballots cast, I checked the percentages of votes with preference, and look at what percentage of the votes it took to win the Hugo Award in 1964:

Novel: Here Gather the Stars (Way Station) by Clifford D. Simak: 24%
Short Fiction: “No Truce with Kings” by Poul Anderson [F&SF Jun 1963]: 37%
Professional Magazine: Analog Science Fiction and Fact ed. by John W. Campbell, Jr.: 34%
Fanzine: Amra ed. by George H. Scithers: 32%
Professional Artist: Ed Emshwiller: 30%
Publisher: Ace: 36%

Or, to put it another way, between roughly two-thirds and three-quarters of all the voters who expressed a preference preferred some other nominee over the one that won in each category.

This to me is why our current Hugo voting system (instant-runoff voting), complex as it is to so many people, is more fair and more likely to return a result that represents a candidate who, if not necessarily best-liked by a majority, is certainly not actively disliked by a majority of the voters. (This says nothing about those people who don't vote, of course.)