Nominating Ballot Details

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The discussion, below, follows from the Hugo rules.

Once the nominating ballots have been collected, the Hugo administrator (helped by the Hugo subcommittee, if there is one) counts the nominations to determine a preliminary final ballot. There will typically be a very large number of entities nominated in each Hugo category, and some of them will be ineligible altogether, and some will be nominated in the wrong category. This is a lot of work!


  1. Count the ballots assuming that every nomination is valid. For each category, make a list of the top fifteen or so nominees with their counts.
  2. For each entity in the top fifteen, look at other categories and see if that entity received any nominations in that category. If so, add all nominations received in any category to the category in which they got the most nominations. (Fans are not very good at nominating things in the proper category.) Likewise, check for alternate versions of a title. Especially for TV programs, some voters will nominate an episode by title and others by description or date. (Yes, it can be mess.)
  3. Do a scan for entities which were not in the top fifteen in any category, but which got enough nominations scattered over multiple categories to make the top fifteen. (This happens mostly in the written fiction categories where there is real confusion over word count.)
  4. In the Dramatic Presentation categories, look to see if any series received votes as a series while also having individual episodes nominated. The Hugo administrator must decide on one or the other, since it can't appear on the final ballot as both. See Nominating Ballot Details#Series Versus Episode, below, for details. Move the votes to whichever category is decided on.
  5. Taking each category in turn, validate each of the presumed nominees starting with the top vote-getter:
    1. Confirm that it is the right kind of entity to appear in the category. (Make sure it meets the category criteria in the Hugo Rules.)
    2. Confirm that if it is a work, it was published or appeared in the proper year.
    3. Confirm that if it is a person, they did qualifying work in the proper year.
    4. If any votes for the presumed nominee were transferred from another, incorrect, category, confirm that the transfer of those votes was permitted. (A transfer may not result in a voter nominating the same thing twice.)
  6. Repeat this process until there are six nominees in the category. Note:
    1. Ties for last place can add additional nominees beyond the standard six .
    2. There is a test specified in the Hugo rules in section 3.8.5 which may result in fewer than five nominees in a category. Perform it.
  7. Continue on and validate the other potential nominees from the top fifteen, taking especial care with those that just miss qualifying for last place. Look carefully once more in other categories for misplaced votes for them, and if found, re-evaluate the list of nominees. Note that all of the potential nominees near last place need to be double- and triple-checked. Don't rely on the computer for this! It's a powerful tool to aggregate the mistakes of the nominators.
  8. Once there is a presumptive list, contact each nominee in turn and ask if they wish to accept or reject the nomination. The presumption is that the nomination is accepted -- a rejection must be explicit -- and if the nominee can't be reached by "reasonable efforts" (which does not mean heroic efforts!), then the nomination stays.
    1. Note that if a nominee declines their nomination, this probably changes the last place and may require additional scrutiny of nominees which were previously too far from making the final ballot to be carefully reviewed.
  9. Preserve the data from this process and prepare the required data for inclusion in the Hugo voting report which is released after the Hugo Awards have been presented. This report and everything except the identity of any nominees who refused nomination is secret and known only to the Hugo subcommittee until after the Hugos are awarded at the Worldcon.
    1. Note that the fact that "XX received enough nominations to be on the ballot, but refused nomination" is announced at the time the final Hugo ballot is released. But no numbers or other details are released.
  10. Create the final ballot and the voting website and release the results! And please, get someone competent who hasn't been involved up until now to proofread the whole thing!

Series Versus Episode[edit]

Some kinds of eligible material (written fiction and dramatic presentations) can be published or presented in discrete pieces so that it is not immediately clear whether the individual pieces are stand-alone works or the set of them, together, constitutes a single work. The WSFS constitution says:

3.2.6: Works appearing in a series are eligible as individual works, but the series as a whole is not eligible. However, a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part.

This makes it clear that if a single work appears in installments, the work as a whole and not the installments if eligible to be nominated. But this leaves open the question of how one can tell if a series of episodes are many works or one work. The clue here is how this has been handled in Best Novel over the last fifty years: When a single novel is published as a serial, it is a single work. But when a series of short stories are set in a common frame (having a common background and perhaps common characters) but are essentially stand-alone stories, they are eligible individually and the overall series is not eligible. This is essentially an aesthetic judgment: Is the story more told over the arc of multiple episodes or is it more told in each story separately? This cannot be reduced to the application of a rule or algorithm and must be decided by each voter individually. (In the end, the Hugo administrator must decide what to place on the ballot, which can be non-trivial when some voters nominate individual episodes, and some nominate the series as a whole. A wise Hugo administrator listens to the freely expressed will of the voters.)

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