The earliest Hugos for which I have been able to find full voting numbers are the 1980 Hugo awards given at Noreascon Two. The details were release in December 1980, some months after the convention was over, and are available in a seven-page PDF here
(the last two pages of the scan are in the wrong order).
563 nomination votes were received, which was a record at the time but was exceeded four times in the rest of the 1980s. (See George Flynn's records
.) Nominations seem to have then dipped again until the recent rise.
The 1788 votes for the final ballot were also a record at the time, and a record which as far as I can tell stood for over thirty years until 2100 voted for the 2011 Hugos at Renovation.
(Incidentally I find it fascinating that participation in Site Selection was well ahead of the Hugos for most of the 1980s and 1990s, peaking at 2509 in 1992, a tight-fought campaign between the eventual 1995 Intersection in Glasgow and a rival bid from Atlanta.)
The closest result in 1980 was for the Gandalf Grand Master Award
for life achievement in fantasy writing, won by Ray Bradbury by a single vote,( Collapse )
The next closest result was the Hugo for Best Novel
, which went to Arthur C. Clarke's The Fountains of Paradise( Collapse )
For Best Novella
, Barry B. Longyear's "Enemy Mine"
won a clear victory,( Collapse )
This was a year when three out of four fiction categories went to the same works for both Hugo and Nebula. "Sandkings", by a now-forgotten writer called George R.R. Martin, won Best Novelette( Collapse )
Martin (I do wonder what heppened to him?) won also for Best Short Story
with "The Way of Cross and Dragon" ( Collapse )
This was the first time that the Hugo for Best Non-Fiction
was awarded. It went to what we now know as the first edition of The Science Fiction Encyclopedia
, by Peter Nicholls,( Collapse )Best Professional Editor
went to George H. Scithers,( Collapse )
Michael Whelan scored a solid victory for Best Professional Artist( Collapse )
The results for Best Dramatic Presentation
include a couple of "What were
they thinking?" moments. Not as far as the winner goes - Alien
is by most metrics not just the best known sf film from 1979, but the best known film of any genre from that year. ( Collapse )
Those were the days when Locus
, edited by Charles N. Brown was eligible for Best Fanzine
, and won( Collapse )
Bob Shaw, who by 1980 had published 15 sf novels and a short story collection, won Best Fan Writer( Collapse )
Alexis Gilliland scored the first of four victories in Best Fan Artist( Collapse )
Finally (aren't you glad?) the John W. Campbell Award
went to Barry B. Longyear, by a stunning margin:( Collapse )
It's a shame that we don't have more of this early data available - presumably some of it is lurking in people's attics - but it's interesting that the one year we have featured unusually high turnout for the time, and allegations of campaigning. Apart from 1980, the only twentieth-century nomination statistics I've seen are from 1984, 1994 and 1998; since 2000 the records seem fairly complete though. Let's hope to do a better job of keeping track for the analysts of the 2040s.