The Hugos and Easter

There has been a lot of discussion in the last few days about the ideal time of publishing the Hugo final ballot (as we now call it) with respect to the Christian holiday of Easter.

Below, I present the actual statistics since 1990, taken from The Long List Of Worldcons, TheHugoAwards.org, and elsewhere, showing the date of the Worldcon, total membership, the date on which the final ballot was announced, its relationship to Easter (using my own cultural references of Holy Thursday – Good Friday – Easter Saturday – Easter Sunday – Easter Monday), the number of nominating ballots and the number of final votes.

What jumps out is of course that the seven highest vote totals ever, in either stage, have been in the last seven years, and on four of those years the final ballot was announced on Easter Saturday. There is therefore little empirical evidence to suggest that participation in the Hugos suffers from an Easter Saturday announcement.

The two highest ever votes on the final ballot, in 2014 and 2015, both followed Easter Saturday anouncements. One of those years was the year that a widely cited piece criticising the Easter Saturday publication was published; in fact that year saw a record level of participation.

Worldcon Dates Host city Membership Finalists announced nominations final ballot
75 – Worldcon 75 9-13 Aug 2017 Helsinki, FI 7,119 / 10,616 04-Apr 2464 3319
74 – MidAmeriCon II 17-21 Aug 2016 Kansas City, MO 4,719 / 7,740 26-Apr 4032 3130
73 – Sasquan 19-23 Aug 2015 Spokane, WA 5,077 / 11,742 04-Apr Easter Saturday 2122 5950
72 – Loncon 3 14-18 Aug, 2014 London 6,946 / 10,718 19-Apr Easter Saturday 1923 3587
71 – LoneStarCon 3 29 Aug-2 Sep 2013 San Antonio, TX 4,832 / 6,130 30-Mar Easter Saturday 1343 1848
70 – Chicon 7 30 Aug-3 Sep 2012 Chicago, IL 4,743 / 6,197 07-Apr Easter Saturday 1101 1922
69 – Renovation 17-21 Aug 2011 Reno, NV 4,112 / 5,526 25-Apr Easter Monday 1006 2100
68 – Aussiecon 4 2-6 Sep 2010 Melbourne 2,101 / 3,462 05-Apr Easter Monday 864 1094
67 – Anticipation 6-10 Aug 2009 Montreal 3,925 / 4,499 20-Mar 799 1074
66 – Denvention 3 6-10 Aug 2008 Denver 3,752 / 4,854 21-Mar Good Friday 483 895
65 – Nippon2007 30 Aug-3 Sep 2007 Yokohama, Japan 3,348 / 5,149 29-Mar 409 >471
64 – L.A.con IV 23-27 Aug 2006 Anaheim 5,738 / 6,291 22-Mar 533 >660
63 – Interaction 4-8 Aug 2005 Glasgow 4,115 / 5,202 26-Mar Easter Saturday 546 684
62 – Noreascon 4 2-6 Sep 2004 Boston 6,008 / 7,485 09-Apr Good Friday >462 1093
61 – Torcon 3 28 Aug-1 Sep 2003 Toronto 3,834 / 4,986 18-Apr Good Friday 738 805
60 – ConJosé 29 Aug-2 Sep 2002 San Jose 5,162 / 5,916 18-Apr 626 >885
59 – The Millennium Philcon 30 Aug-3 Sep 2001 Philadelphia 4,840 / 6,269 26-Apr 495 1075
58 – Chicon 2000 31 Aug-4 Sep 2000 Chicago 5,794 / 6,574 20-Apr Holy Thursday 427 1071
57 – Aussiecon Three 2-6 Sep 1999 Melbourne 1,548 / 2,872 23-Apr 425 438
56 – BucConeer 5-9 Aug 1998 Baltimore 6572 10-Apr Good Friday 471 769
55 – LoneStarCon 2 28 Aug-1 Sep 1997 San Antonio 4,634 / 5,614 22-Apr 429 687
54 – L.A.con III 29 Aug-2 Sep 1996 Anaheim 6703 20-Apr 442 939
53 – Intersection 24-28 Aug 1995 Glasgow 4,173/ 6,524 01-May 477 744
52 – ConAdian 1-5 Sep 1994 Winnipeg 3570 26-Apr 649 491
51 – ConFrancisco 2-6 Sep 1993 San Francisco 6,602 / 7,725 18-Apr 397 841
50 – MagiCon 3-7 Sep 1992 Orlando 5,319 / 6,368 10-May 498 902
49 – Chicon V 29 Aug-2 Sep 1991 Chicago 5661 22-May 352 1048
48 – ConFiction 23-27 Aug 1990 The Hague 3580 26-Mar 291 486

NB: Missing off the end of the table: the pre-2011 record of final votes was set at NorEasCon 2 in 1980, with 1788 voters. The next highest was 1595 for MidAmeriCon in 1976. The highest number of nominating votes before 1990 was at ConStellation in 1983, with 660. The second highest was the previous year's L.A.Con IV, the biggest Worldcon ever, with 648.

Easter is late next year, as it was last year, and Dublin 2019 will announce the final ballot earlier in April, as Worldcon 75 did last year. But my personal feeling is that announcing the ballot to a fannish audience at conventions over Easter weekend appeals to the core Hugo voting community and does no demonstrable harm to the awards; so it would be my preferred option, if the date of Easter itself is suitable and other things are equal.

One thought on “The Hugos and Easter

  1. Sorry, it doesn’t belong on a ballot competing for best novel of 2-0-1-3. Lots of individual parts of series have been nominated before, and there is even an example this year.

    Alan Heuer

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