Do VOTES have any meaning? Answered
EDIT(8/26/12): Since I posted this many of the contest official rules have included a clear explanation of how user votes are used to determine the finalist. It most cases it seems 49% of the eligible entries are chosen solely on user votes. This clears up all the confusion I had based on the previous wording of the rules for contests that are now over.
I recently read a blog post about the Make if Real contest that said that the winners were decided by votes, but I know that is not the case. I looked at a few of the current and past contests and found out there is no way to view how many votes an instrucable has either during or after a contest, which I read is becasue people were trying to rig the voting. So if judging is not based on votes and there is no way to know how many votes you got then why do we have the option to vote? Having a vote button seems misleading.