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Voting at InterHash

By now, everyone who cares probably knows InterHash 2012 will be held in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, from 24-27 May 2012. The losing IH2012 bidder, Mombasa, Kenya, is planning to host an interhash anyway, on the same weekend.

Voting for future InterHash venues has always generated heat and controversy. Back in the day, only GMs were allowed to vote for future venues. Both times I participated in GM-only votes at InterHash (in 1994 at Rotorua and 2000 at Hobart), I came away believing the winning bidders had packed the room with bogus “GMs” sent in to vote for them. These days all InterHash attendees vote. The last time I participated in that kind of vote, at InterAmericas Hash in 2009, I thought there were a lot of irregularities too, and strongly suspected ballot stuffing by one of the bidding venues (click here to read some world-class whining on the subject). IMHO, most hashers (and IH bid organizers) look upon vote rigging as harmless fun and are more or less shameless about doing it.

In any case, word is that members of the Kenya bidding committee were upset over Indonesia’s win, as were many hashers in attendance (there are reports of booing at the announcement ceremony). Hashers reporting in from Borneo say that Kenya’s going to hold an InterHash anyway. Others say it’ll be an “InterHash-style” event. Either way, unless things change, there’ll be two competing world hash events on the same May weekend in 2012.

Were there voting irregularities in Borneo last weekend? Obviously, I wasn’t there, and even hashers who were there don’t know for sure. There may have been; there may not have been. Personally, I suspect the former.

My personal impression is that the majority of Borneo InterHash attendees were from Malaysia and neighboring Asian countries, since Borneo’s in their backyard. And that these Asian hashers, given the choice between a future InterHash in Asia and one in Africa, voted in a bloc for the Asian alternative. Such a vote could easily overwhelm the vote of non-Asian hashers looking to go InterHashing in a brand new, unexplored venue like Africa.

I understand the frustration and hurt feelings involved in putting on a losing bid. Hawaiian hashers worked hard for more than a year on their InterAmericas Hash 2011 bid; not until a few weeks before hashers began arriving in Colorado for IAH 2009 did anyone know Savannah was going to put on a competing bid; Savannah’s win was a huge upset, and there was much post-vote talk of setting up an alternative event in Hawaii anyway.

But the alternative Hawaiian event didn’t materialize. Calmer heads prevailed, and now everyone is looking forward to IAH in Savannah next year. I bet the same thing’ll happen here, and that the Kenya “InterHash” will evaporate. If that happens, will Kenya bid again for 2014? If they do, that may cause a problem for Belgium, which has been working hard the past two years preparing to bid on InterHash 2014.

Whorator (whom I recently interviewed for this blog) has been pushing the idea of multiple InterHashes. His reasons for doing so have more to do with the sheer size of recent InterHashes (Borneo had over 5,000 hashers in attendance); he’d like to see it broken up into two or three smaller events, possibly held in different parts of the globe.

Whorator’s idea has some appeal. I’m retired and can no longer afford to travel half-way around the world for a weekend of hashing. If there were two InterHashes, one closer to home, I might be able to go. And in any case, the notion that there can be only one InterHash every two years strikes me as too limiting.

The downside to multiple InterHashes is that not everyone will be in the same place at the same time. The biggest draw of InterHash, to me at least, is seeing old friends and meeting hashers I’ve always wanted to meet. If half go to Indonesia and half to Kenya . . . well, you see the problem. So maybe multiple InterHashes isn’t the way to go.

Voting is part of the problem, but the bigger problem, it seems to me, is that there’s only one InterHash every two years. It’s not enough for all the potential host countries! Maybe we should have an InterHash every year.

But that’s crazy talk. Right?

- Flying Booger

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