EDIT 28.03.2014: It was confirmed yesterday afternoon by Hull City that our detailed questions about the conduct or probity of the club’s name change ballot will not be replied to at this time. This raises some very serious concerns. Hull City fans will be faced with the prospect of receiving the outcome of the ballot alongside a statement that says “trust us guv, this is all above board”. There will be no prior assurances about the ballot process and numbers.
While we might not have, or indeed wish for, any evidence of misconduct, it seems bizarre that the legitimate concerns of supporters about the ballot process are not being answered now, prior to the results being announced and prior to the ballot closing. We are unaware of any other ballot, ever, that announced the details of how the ballot was conducted and controlled only after it has been completed and analysed.
It is certainly a situation that makes it difficult for supporters to have maximum faith in a ballot that will determine the owners’ views on the future name of our club.
Original post follows.
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Following many concerns expressed by Hull City AFC supporters regarding the ballot over the proposed name change to Hull Tigers, City Till We Die yesterday sent the following list of questions to the club:
- There is a known problem with the online completion of PDF files issued by the club, as revealed during the issue and receipt of Wembley ticket orders, whereby fans are filling in the form, returning it by email then discovering that the submitted forms are blank. What controls have the club put in place to ensure the inadvertent production of such blank voting forms is avoided? If the risk persists of blank forms being submitted, what steps is the club putting in place to capture the voting intentions of those people affected?
- Some pass holders may wish to add comments to the voting form, as well as submitting their name, address and pass number details. What will be the club’s approach to those forms with additional writing added? Will they be counted as valid votes?
- Can you please explain the protections that have been put on the email inbox firstname.lastname@example.org, to reassure supporters that the votes received by email cannot be tampered with or viewed by Hull City staff? And can you please explain the process by which the independent adjudicator will be given exclusive access to this email inbox?
- Can you, in a similar fashion, explain how the postal ballot boxes will be protected so that no Hull City staff can view or tamper with the contents? Are the ballot boxes uniquely numbered and listed independently, so that there are protections in place to avoid boxes going missing, either accidentally or deliberately? Have the ballot boxes been sealed? When a box is filled, is it replaced with an empty one and stored, or is a full box emptied and reused? Where are the full boxes being stored? And how will the ballot boxes be transported to the independent adjudicator at the end of the ballot?
- Can you please explain why people’s name and addresses are requested, as well as their season card number? This is not normal procedure for secret ballots.
- Can you please provide the name, address and other contact details for the independent adjudicator retained by the club? And can you please briefly explain the process gone through to select that firm and assess their capabilities? Further, can you please explain what input the adjudicator had to the design of the ballot process launched last Friday?
- Can you please confirm the numbers of people eligible to vote, by season pass type (OAP, adult, youth, corporate sponsors, Premier Club)? Can you please confirm that all of these people have been contacted by the club, and explain how this has been achieved? Can you please confirm that all such communications inviting different groups to cast their vote, by whatever means, have included the exact same wording?
- Can you please clarify whether full-time and/or part-time employees of the club that are not pass holders (including, but not limited to, the playing staff) are eligible to vote? Have any such employees received communication from the club’s management that differs from the other people invited to cast their vote? If so, can you please let us see a copy of any written communication, or summarise the spoken messages that may have been delivered?
- Finally, can you please confirm that the club’s intention for this ballot, is to canvas opinions on the name change, and that issue alone?
We were pleased to get a prompt response from James Mooney, Marketing Manager, assuring us that they would aim to answer them today following a meeting with the adjudicators appointed to oversee the ballot. However, 24 hours after submitting these legitimate questions, we have been unable to get a firm response from the club on any of them. In fact, Hull City have even been unable to provide us with the name of the adjudicators.
We have stressed the need for clarity on the issues raised above and hope to receive some answers as soon as possible.
The ballot closes at midnight on Friday 28th March.
CITY TILL WE DIE Campaign Group