Voting Early, and Often

The online ballot for the Locus Poll and Survey is up and running, and already over a dozen ballots have been received. Voting is open for nearly three full months, so there’s no reason to vote right away, especially since readers are encouraged to catch up on books and stories they might have missed–using, of course, Locus’ handy Recommended Reading List, and the reviewer essays that appear in the February issue–before voting.

Whether due to the posting of the ballot, or more likely of the Recommended Reading List, traffic to Locus Online surged on Tuesday, to over twice the typical daily high– over 18,000 unique visitors.

Votes in the poll generally trickle in at a steady rate from February, when the the ballot goes online, through the April or May deadline, with only a slight surge at the end as the deadline approaches. Having tabulated the votes the past 2 or 3 years (by importing the emailed form submissions into a database), I’ve noticed some interesting trends in how people vote, and how the votes accumulate. Without of course being too specific, I may mention some of these in the coming weeks as the ballots come in.

Here’s one general observation to start. Though there are usually one or two close categories every year, in most categories in most years the eventual winner is apparent after only 40 or 50 ballots have been received. (The grand total being 5 or 600 or more.) Seeing this happen makes me much less skeptical about political polls, which are often criticized for using such small samples. (It’s not the sample size, it’s the selection.) That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother to vote unless you can vote early, of course. You won’t know which categories are close or not, and your vote might well determine a close category, even at the very end.

Update 7.30 p.m. PST: about 40 ballots received, so far.

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