Aug 10 2008 1:32pm

Hugo Awards: The Details

In advance of releasing the detailed Hugo nominating and voting results, Denvention distributed a URL where, they said, that information would be available by 11 PM last night. Locus reproduced that link.

For whatever reason, when Denvention finally did publish that information (quite a while after 11 PM), they parked it at a URL different from the one they’d announced. So if you’ve been trying to load that original URL, try this one instead.

It’s a PDF, but a well-formatted one, and as usual the detailed breakdowns are full of interesting narratives and cross-currents for those who know how to read the results of an “instant-runoff” election (sometimes colloquially referred to in the US as an “Australian ballot”).

[Photo: blogger David G. Hartwell with Hugo Award for Best Editor (Long Form), plus inevitable prop.]

Punning Pundit
1. Punning Pundit
In the US, an "Australian Rules ballot" is a secret ballot, not an IRV.

Fun historical fact: When the US switched to secret ballots, parties could no longer verify that voters were staying bribed once they hit the voting booths. So bribes stopped being handed out, and voting rates plummeted from about 80% to about 50%-- where they remain to this day...
Christine Evelyn Squires
2. ces
For those who DON'T know how to read the results of an “instant-runoff” election - how about an explanation please?

The best professional artist was tough for me. 2 artists whose work I love were nominated - and 1 of them is a personal friend. Fortunately, I doubt it will happen next year.
Arachne Jericho
3. arachnejericho
I have an explanation on my blog, although some parts of the math may be wrong. Interpreting instant-runoff for second/third/etc places surprisingly makes my head hurt.
Punning Pundit
4. Jack Boyd
Fascinating fact about the Australian ballot, Punning Pundit.

On how instant runoff works: it basically is as if everyone was in the same room voting on the nominees again and again (in person you could go stand behind something representing your first choice), but never changing their initial order of preference. Ballot counters reduce the field one by one, dropping off the weakest finisher, until one nominee wins by gaining the support of more than half of the people expressing a preference among the remaining choices.

To elect the second place finisher, you don't just go for the nominee that finished second in the instant runoff voting, as it can be the case that most (or even all) of the supporters of the winner support some other nominee as the second choice. So what you do is just start a whole new count, but this time without the winner. If everyhone were in the same room, you would just say "Okay, let's start over, but this time without our winner as a candidate. Go stand behind your favorite of the remaining four nominees or over here if you think there should be no award."

There's some info on the basic counting process at, including a flash animation.
Kevin Maroney
5. womzilla
Since I tend to ego-scan the Hugo voting breakdown, I will note that the Best Semiprozine awards has a great example of how the instant runoff voting works in practice.

The top two "first place" vote-getters were Locus (as always, the overall winner) and The New York Review of Science Fiction. NYRSF had 102 first-place votes, 20% more than the third-place nominee, Interzone, or the nearly tied fourth-place nominee, Ansible.

However, as the voting for second place was calculated, Interzone handily beat NYRSF because voters who liked Ansible tended to like Interzone more than they liked NYRSF. When Ansible was knocked out, that pushed Interzone into a safe second place.

This is a feature--nominees with deep support will tend to win out over nominees with more superficial support. The applications of this voting system to other fields of human endeavor should be clear.
Christine Evelyn Squires
6. ces
Hmmm. Interesting. Thanks everyone!

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