It’s not a question I’ve ever asked myself, and I doubt it would ever have occurred to me, had I not been surfing the Interaction website and happened to look at the Interaction Complete Nomination Statistics, which were quite interesting.
Of the 4,000 or so Interaction members (the number I’ve heard mentioned), 546 nominated to vote and 684 actually voted. It took 33 nominations to make the novel ballot, 29 to make the novella ballot, 19 to make the novelette ballot, and just 18 to make the short story ballot. Interestingly, given all of the discussion of the editor category, it took more nominations (71!) to make the final ballot for editor than for any other category in the awards. It is something people feel passionately about, obviously.
I don’t know how typical these figures are, but it obviously it can’t be that hard to get a Hugo nomination if all you need is 18 nominations. I don’t suggest or condone vote stacking, but you can see what leads to it. The belief that it isn’t that hard to get a result. Interesting.
Edit 10/8/05: Check out the comments for this, as Cheryl makes some good points. The one thing I’d hope people would carry away from this post is that people who care about the awards should nominate and vote. The process is only effective and meaningful if it’s widely used.