How does a book Win? Part 3: Balloting
So, we’ve nominated our books and we’ve discussed them and discussed them and discussed them. Now, it’s time to vote! But how does that voting work? And how does the Committee decide what books are honor books?
Let’s start with our Newbery winner. In order to be selected as the Newbery winner, a book must have at least eight first place votes (a majority) and must have an eight point lead over all other books. (In our mock discussion, we will base these numbers on how many people show up and are part of the discussion. For the real committee of 15, this is a majority, so for our discussion we will use a small majority as the number required, as well.)
Once all books have been discussed, the members of the committee each write down their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice books on a ballot. This ballot is tallied. Each 1st place vote = 4 points. A 2nd place vote = 3 points. A 3rd place vote = 2 points. If this first ballot produces a winner, then voila! We have a Newbery medal winning title! If not, then re-balloting is necessary.
Before another vote can be taken, though, the committee MUST have more discussion. During this discussion, by consensus the committee may choose to remove books from the table. They will likely remove books that had no votes, and with discussion it may make sense to also remove books with few votes. If those books are unlikely to suddenly rise to top, it is helpful to take those few votes they got and disperse them among other titles that are more likely to win.
We never know what goes on behind the doors at the Newbery table, though. A 12 Angry Men situation could certainly happen with one or two members swaying the committee via discussion of titles.
Re-balloting will happen as many times as need be to get the 8 point spread and the 8 winning votes that produces a winner. HOORAY! A WINNER!
This is what the Manual tells us about re-balloting:
The committee may not proceed to another ballot without a second round of book discussion. At this point, certain choices present themselves, and certain procedures apply:
- By consensus the committee may choose to withdraw from the discussion list all titles that receive no votes on the first ballot.
- By consensus the committee may choose to withdraw additional titles that received minimal support on the first ballot.
- Once withdrawn from the discussion list, a book is permanently eliminated from consideration for the award.
- Once a second round is complete, the committee proceeds to a second ballot.
- On a second ballot (and, if necessary, all subsequent ballots), votes are tabulated by the tellers who use the same point system and formula as in the first round to determine a winner.
- If after a second ballot, there is still no winner, the committee is required to re-open discussion and then re-ballot, alternating between discussion and re-balloting until a winner is selected.
At that point, the committee decides on honor books. The committee can name any number of honor books they choose, including none. They can select those honor books from the final ballot used to select the winner, or they can ballot again for honor books. Here is some of what the Manual says about honor books:
These shall be books that are also truly distinguished.
…as well as…
The committee may name as many or as few as it chooses, or none, keeping in mind that the books should be truly distinguished, not merely general contenders.
We are getting so close to knowing the winner – our online winner, our in-person winner, and the REAL winner!
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About Sharon McKellar
Sharon McKellar is the Supervising Librarian for Teen Services at the Oakland Public Library in California. She has served on the Rainbow List Committee, the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee, The Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Committee, and the 2015 Caldecott Committee. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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