1984 Westercon Site Selection

Site selection for the 1984 Westercon was more than usually fraught. Westercon 35, 1982, Phoenix administered the vote. The bidders were Portland in 1984 and Phoenix in 1984.

July 4, 1984 was a Wednesday, and as it turned out, one bidder bid the weekend before the 4th and one bid the weekend after the 4th. Fans quickly saw the opportunity for fun and some people started campaigning for both. They created flyers saying "If you are a Phoenix local or a Portland local, this is a great opportunity to get more for your money: You can attend the con portion nearest you if you're on a budget; You can attend both cons for little more than if you were going to the con farther away; LA locals can check their cats on their way to the other con."

This gained traction over the weekend at Westercon 35. The bidders had agreed to count the ballots at 7pm on Sunday, right after voting had closed, but to keep the results secret until the Westercon Business Meeting the next morning. Counting was done by the usual committee of bidders and voting junkies under the supervision of Randy Rau (who was also a bidder — remember that Phoenix was bidding in Phoenix for Phoenix) for the administering committee. After the counting session, Rau walked from the counting room down to the main convention level and heard the rumor that someone had one by a one-vote margin. Since that was in fact true, they had a leak and Rau was annoyed.

The problem was that the Westercon rules were unclear about when voting closed — arguably, people attending the business meeting who hadn't already voted could still vote there. With the margin a single vote, people on both sides urged supporters to attend the BM and to vote there. Chaos ensued, heads were put together, and the cooler ones prevailed. Randy Rau announced that that Phoenix in 1984 had withdrawn its bid, and that Portland in 1984 had won unopposed and that the 374 ballots had been destroyed.

But what really happened? Milt Stevens's analysis seems solid: "Both" won by a single vote, with Portland second. Had Portland won, it could have been resolved by sticking to the agreement that voting closed the night before. Had Phoenix won, they wouldn't have had to pack the business meeting. The losing bid could simply have conceded. The only reason why a withdrawal would have been necessary is if "Both" won, since either bid withdrawing meant that Both was out of the race, also. Also, the haste to destroy the ballots points towards a win for "Both".

Once again, practicality sinks a wonderful fannish jest.

But Portland went on to run Westercon 37.

This is based on a more detailed report by Mike Glyer in File 770 #35 p16.