This morning, I woke up to an email letting me know site selection voting for the location of the 2017 WorldCon is now open.
Voting is $40, which is essentially buying a supporting membership to the 2017 Con, no matter where it ends up being held. This is the same $40 that will let you nominate and vote in the Hugo Awards for that year, so even if you don’t/can’t attend the con itself, it’s not a bad deal if new spec fic is you bag baby. Think of it as like a kind of annual Birchbox but for SFF.
Potential sites for the 2017 WorldCon are Washington D.C., USA, Shizuoka, Japan, Montreal, Canada, and Helsinki, Finland. Of those, Japan is my favourite because, a) it’s Japan,1 and b) it’s the closest to me of all the sites. Next preference would be Helsinki, which I’ve never been to, but we’ve got some friends in Norway and the Netherlands, which are nearby,2 and so is Iceland, which is also a super-rad place I’d totally 110% go back to.3
So yeah. I have Opinions, and I should totally go exercise those, right? Okay. So I’ll just… oh.
The 2017 site selection ballot is available online and a paper ballot is included in the site selection packet. However, Site Selection voting is by PAPER ballot only. The WSFS Constitution guarantees the bidding committees the right to audit the voting.
Ballots may be sent in advance by postal mail to the address on the site selection ballot, and such ballots must be received by the mail-in deadline of August 10, 2015.
[Emphasis from original.]
You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s 2015 and I have to send in a paper ballot and a cheque? Despite the fact that the site promises online payments, as opposed to cheque mailing, the facility is “not available yet”. Which… y’all know how long the international post takes to get around, right? ‘Cause four months might seem like a long deadline now, but it really, really isn’t. Not to mention the hassle of actually going to the post office, finding stamps and an envelope,4 paying for stamps and an envelope…
Yeah. I mean, c’mon. And to think. Just the other day I was wondering why so many WorldCons are held in the US. Now I know: the logistics of the site voting process is stacked in such a way to keep it there. It’s a wonder WorldCons ever get held anywhere else.
It’s also bizarre to me that the payment logistics of WorldCons seem to be handled by the individual cons (?), and not the World Science Fiction Society. The World’s Fair, by contrast, which WorldCon grew out of, is run by a central authority, the Bureau International des Expositions. The BIE is French, because the original World’s Fairs were in France, but today it has 168 member countries, and it’s the BIE that manages the schedule for Expos, not the last country an Expo was held in. Ditto with the Olympics and the IOC.
Online payment and voting logistics–specifically the auditing thereof–aren’t trivial, and can be super expensive. But they are doable. Except not if every single tiny town and its dozen-member con volunteer group has to recreate everything from scratch every year. That’s bizarre. Surely there’s some kind of SaaS platform that the WSFS can centrally administer for this purpose?