Consultative Vote on Hugo Rule Changes

In the run-up to Glasgow 2024: A Worldcon for our Futures, the convention will conduct a consultative online vote on a proposed change to the Hugo Award rules, enabling all members to express their view on the proposal.

What is the proposed change?

A resolution passed at the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting in Chengdu would create two new Hugo Award categories: the Best Independent Short Film Award and the Best Independent Feature Film Award. This resolution would need to be ratified by the 2024 WSFS Business Meeting in Glasgow to come into effect from 2025 onward.

What do you plan to do?

At present, we plan to invite all WSFS members of Glasgow 2024 to express their views on the proposed change, in a straight yes-or-no online vote, in the weeks before the convention takes place in August 2024. The proposers will be invited to write a short statement in support of their proposal, and we will offer a similar facility to opponents.

When will it take place?

The vote will be conducted immediately before Glasgow 2024—no earlier than the close of Hugo voting, no later than the start of the convention.

How will the vote be conducted?

Our current plan is to conduct the vote online, with no paper or in-person components.

Who will be eligible to vote?

Only WSFS members of Glasgow 2024.

Doesn’t this usurp the Business Meeting’s role in changing the constitution?

No. The consultative vote will have no constitutional force. The decisions made by the Business Meeting will be final. Within certain limits, the 2024 Business Meeting can also amend the current proposal before it is ratified, subsequent to the consultative vote.

Why are you doing this?

Among the many potential reforms to WSFS Business Meeting procedures, putting proposals and other matters to a vote of WSFS members is an innovation that has often been mentioned. But it has never been tried. In 2016, the idea of an approval vote for Hugo finalists, as a third round in the nomination process, was passed at the Business Meeting but not ratified in 2017. We therefore propose to test the operation of a consultative vote, to explore if and how such a procedure could become part of the permanent rules.

Glasgow 2024’s core values are to be caring, inclusive, and imaginative as a convention. The consultative vote is imaginative, in that it has not been done before; it demonstrates that we care about our members’ opinions; and it will be more inclusive than a physical meeting can ever be.

We also note that we are not exercising the option of a special Hugo category this year; the consultative vote is our contribution to the ongoing development of the awards.

Why are you singling out this particular proposal to put to a consultative vote?

This was the only constitutional amendment affecting the Hugo Awards that received first passage in 2023. If any other new changes to the Hugo rules had been approved in Chengdu, we would also have put them forward for a consultative vote in the same way. (Two others were rejected by the Business Meeting in Chengdu.)

Why are you not also calling a consultative vote on any other constitutional amendments that are up for ratification in 2024, or on any changes to the standing rules?

Several other constitutional amendments were indeed passed in Chengdu, most notably a proposal to set up an Asian regional convention under the remit of WSFS. Those amendments will also be subject to ratification by the Glasgow Business Meeting, but we do not think that they are suitable material for a consultative vote. Likewise, we don’t believe that amendments to the standing rules, either recent or envisaged, are suitable for this exercise. The Hugo proposal is more straightforward and perhaps of more general interest.

Will you call a consultative vote on any other new proposals to change the Hugo rules—or other parts of the constitution or standing rules—that might be proposed to the Glasgow Business Meeting in advance of the convention? Will you allow the vote to include any amendments to the proposed changes?

No, and no.

Are you for or against creating Hugo Awards for ‘Best Independent Short Film’ and ‘Best Independent Feature Film’?

Glasgow 2024 has no position on that question, though individual members, including members of the Committee, surely do. We do have a position in favour of being caring, imaginative, and inclusive.

Won’t this have a huge cost in terms of time and money?

The reason we are doing this is precisely to identify those costs for potential future reference. The time involved will be considerably less than administering even one Hugo Award category. The software required is already part of our envisaged package, so there is no extra cost.

If the consultative vote has no constitutional effect, will people participate?

We can only answer that question by carrying out the exercise. However, fans are generally not shy about expressing their opinions in any forum, whether or not doing so has a direct impact.

Will this happen again in future? And, if so, will it be applied to all constitutional changes? Will we eventually change the constitution by vote of WSFS members?

Obviously, we think that this is a good idea in principle, or we would not be doing it. But we can only speak for Glasgow 2024, and we do not know how it will work out in practice. We are sure that future Worldcon committees will look at the conduct and outcome of the 2024 consultative vote process and draw their own conclusions; and we’ll happily advise them on any lessons learned.

To give constitutional force to such votes would require constitutional change, and nobody has yet formally proposed such a change—though, as noted above, it has been discussed for some time. Hopefully this exercise will reveal some of the hurdles that would need to be overcome if it were ever implemented as a formal procedure.

The 82nd Worldcon will take place in Glasgow, August 8–12, 2024. We can’t wait to welcome you to Glasgow and the SEC/Armadillo for a Worldcon for Our Futures.

Nicholas Whyte is originally from Belfast, but has lived in Belgium since 1999. He was the Guest of Honour for Reclamation, the 2022 Eastercon, and previously the DH for Promotions at Loncon 3 in 2014, and then Hugo Administrator in 2017 and 2019, deputy Hugo administrator in 2020 and 2022 and WSFS DH at DisCon III in 2021 and Glasgow 2024, as well as being an Arthur C. Clarke Award judge in 2015 and 2023. He is a particular fan of Doctor Who, and is briefly visible in Peter Davison’s ‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot’. In his day job, he is a political consultant in Brussels, and advised the last three counties to become independent (Montenegro, Kosovo and South Sudan). Having failed as a political candidate in Northern Ireland, he compensates by doing election night commentaries for the BBC in Belfast. He blogs at