MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Hall of Fame ballots will be made public starting in 2018

Hall of Fame ballots will be made public starting in 2018

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- For the first time in 2018, all eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America who file ballots for the annual election of players to the National Baseball Hall of Fame will have their votes made public.

The membership voted, 80-9, in favor of that transparency after a short discussion at the annual BBWAA gathering during the Winter Meetings on Tuesday morning.

• Selig, Schuerholz elected to Hall of Fame

In the past, all votes were anonymous, and they were not released by either the BBWAA or the Hall of Fame. However, any writer could voluntarily release his or her vote publicly.

Under the new rules, all votes will be released seven days after the election announcement, and there will be no limitation on any writer who opts to publish their ballot beforehand.

In the most recent election, 307 of the 440 voters released their own ballots -- either personally or through the BBWAA. Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were both elected, and the pair was inducted this past July 24. In that election, Griffey received a record 99.3 percent of the vote, with three voters keeping Griffey, who hit 630 career homers, off their ballots.

There was a social media storm this past January after the election results were made public, but the names of those three writers never surfaced. Under the new rules, such anonymity would be impossible.

The new rule will not affect the current vote, which is already in progress. Ballots were sent out last month and are due on Dec. 31. The announcement that will fill out the Class of 2017 is scheduled for Jan. 18 on MLB Network and MLB.com.

Writers with at least 10 consecutive years of membership are eligible to vote each year for the Hall of Fame. Under new guidelines instituted for the Class of 2016 by the Hall, every eligible writer must fill out an online form each year to qualify. The Hall is intent on eliminating voters who no longer regularly cover Major League Baseball.

The 440 writers that submitted ballots in the most recent election was down from 549 the previous year.

Every writer with at least 10 years of consecutive involvement in the BBWAA retains status as a lifetime member, even when no longer active. Those writers are allowed to continue voting on the Hall of Fame for 10 years after they become inactive.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.