As a result of the decision of two people to have their works removed from the Hugo ballot, the Hugo committee moved two other works up in the ranks and then closed the ballot yesterday
I think closing the ballot at this time was a smart idea; it's obvious that the SF establishment was "leaning on" — as they say in the Mafia — people to drop off the ballot. The longer this campaign of blackmail and threats continued, the more likely the ballot was to be unsettled.
One tidbit of information which caught some eagle eyed observers by surprise came from the updating of the nominating ballot range released by the Hugo committee. Although the actual number of nominations for each work is not released until after the awards are presented, upon the presentation of the ballot the range of the number of ballots for successfully nominated works is released.
For example, the range of nominations as released yesterday for the short story finalists was 132-226, which means whatever story got the most nominations had 226 and whoever finished fifth had 132. As a result of the update, you would expect the lower range to drop because whatever story originally finished sixth was moved up. However in the case of the short story category, the higher number also dropped, from 230.
I'm not a statistician, but I'm also not the only person who saw that and realizes it may mean that “Goodnight Stars” by Annie Bellet, which she withdrew, may have had the most nominations overall.
Having the most nominations is not a guarantee of finally winning the award, but honestly I thought I did well to make the ballot in light of competition and her story had a very good shot if not the best shot at actually winning the award. The fact that she may have lost this opportunity to win a Hugo because the smear campaign conducted by the SF establishment is reprehensible.
I've had more than one person urged me not to withdraw from the ballot. I'm a stubborn old cuss and I never seriously considered it. But I feel very sorry that Annie felt so buffeted by the storm. I did not know who she was or about her story before the nomination, so the nomination had some benefit for me. I hope she heals from this experience.