Parlimentary stuff is sometimes fodder for humor, especially when it allows one to write things like “the business meeting voted on voting”. However, most of the rest of this situation is not funny.
Below, video of a session of the World Science Fiction Society’s Discon III Business Meeting, in which a resolution regarding the legitimacy and counting of ballots for the 2023 Site Selection was voted in, that non-binding resolution instructing the Site Selection Administrator(s) that ballots not containing the full list of required information can be counted as “No Preference”, meaning the individual still has attendance rights, but that their ballot will not count towards the tally for site selection.
Given the question and the players – the Chinese bid for the city of Chengdu and the Canadian bid for Winnipeg – and the strong suggestion (and hints/clues/leaks, however you want to designate them) from various sources that there were an inordinately high number of ballots in favor of Chengdu, it would not be out of line to speculate that some people believe that a significant number of the Chinese-sourced ballots are not legitimate…or at the very least, the current circumstances suggest that enough of those ballots might be problematic and need to be subjected to additional scrutiny.
This is confusing territory for the uninitiated, so here’s a summary:
WSFS is the World Science Fiction Society, the governing body of fans that oversees the selection of Worldcon committees, the Hugo Award voting and a handful of other administrative tasks. The organization is deliberately an unincorporated society. One mandatory item in the WSFS Constitution is the hosting of a WSFS Business Meeting where rules proposals are made and voted on and other administrative matters of the society are discussed and potentially voted on.
Site Selection is one of WSFS’s administrative duties, where the competing bids for hosting a Worldcon two years hence are voted on.
The question raised at this year’s meeting relates to the ability of the site selection administrators to be able to determine the legitimacy of individual voters. If a voter’s identity (related to their right to cast a ballot) can not be positively determined, their vote is not counted for the purpose of selecting the winning Worldcon bid (the voter still retains their WSFS membership rights).
The fact that this issue was raised suggests that others than myself think there is a possibility that some of the votes cast for this year’s site selection may not be individual fans freely voting their preference, but may in fact be ballot stuffing by a non-fannish entity.
Oh screw it. Enough fan members of this year’s Worldcon believed that the Chinese government – or entities acting on behalf of a branch of that government – are attempting to stuff the ballot box by purchasing memberships and filling out electronic ballots.
Those who are in favor of a Chinese-hosted Worldcon counter the above with charges of racism and discrimination. (Truly, Worldcon is a microcosm of the United States.)
I personally believe that there are many, many fine Chinese fans of Science Fiction and that they deserve to be welcomed into the SF community with open arms. I also believe that the Chinese government is seeking to attain influence and control over Worldcon for its own political ends. Further, I believe that the Chinese government is engaging in wholesale genocide against the Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in China and that they should not be allowed to use Worldcon to cover-up or distract from their unacceptable actions.
In this instance, I exercise one of the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, that of Free Speech, a freedom that I wish were extended to all SF Fans around the world, but which is not. We can not allow Worldcon to become a tool of dictatorships, whether they be small groups of disgruntled fans or large governmental institutions.
You can watch the discussion and voting below; the resolution discussion begins at approximately 35:45.