For a bidded convention, site selection is the voting process by which a winner is chosen. For Worldcon and Westercon, bidding is by secret ballot at the convention two years before (with Worldcon also allowing mail ballots.) For Eastercon it is by vote at the convention two years before.
The manager of the process is usually called the Site Selection Administrator. At the largest cons, it may take a small team.
Worldcon Site Selection
Worldcon site selection is a complex process involving a long Worldcon bidding process followed by a formal bid filing six months before the vote. Formal bid filing is required to be on the ballot, though write-ins are permitted. Some time after the close of the bid filing and before the convention, the administering Worldcon sends out a ballot and begins accepting mail ballots.
At the convention itself, after a few days of feverish campaigning, at-con balloting ends and a committee comprised of representatives from all the filed bids and the site selection administrator (the manager of the whole site selection process who is appointed by the host Worldcon) goes off and counts the votes using the transferable preferential ballot method. The WSFS Business meeting the following day ratifies the result of site selection or in the event (which has never happened) that there is no winner, selects a winner.
Also see the annotated WSFS Constitution on Site Selection.
"Lead time" in the context of site selection is the number of years between a bidded convention being selected and actually occurring. Tweaks to Worldcon site selection have adjusted the Worldcon lead time from one year to two years to three years and then back to two years. See also rotation plan.
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