Society Election Rules - 2013
The following rules, based upon rules used in previous elections and having regard to published Supporters Direct best practice (applied in the light of our local circumstances and the preferences of our membership), were approved by the ArabTRUST Society Board at its meeting on 16th February 2006 for use in all future elections.
In these rules:
“You” generally means candidates for election but can apply to all or any Society members. The election rules have been written deliberately in the form of guidance addressed to “you” for ease of reading.
To distinguish from references to these election rules, references to the Society Rules are capitalised.
1.1 ArabTRUST (which is the operating name of Dundee United Supporters Society Limited – referred to in the rest of this document as “the Society”) is a formally constituted mutual society under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965. The Society has a Board which is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Society on behalf of the whole membership. The Society is legally obliged to follow the Society Rules. These were set out when the Society was formally registered with the Financial Services Authority and regulate all of the Society’s activities including, amongst other things, the election of Society Board members.
1.2 The Society Rules provide in general terms how elections of Board members are to be carried out and seek to ensure that the Society Board remains democratically appointed and representative of the membership. In summary, the relevant Society Rules provide as follows:
The membership of the Society (aged 16 and over) elects members of the Society Board at the Society‘s AGMs.
The Board membership is a minimum of 10 members and a maximum of 15. A minimum of 6 members are to be elected by the membership, with elected Board members requiring to be in the majority over co-opted members. A minimum of 2 members are to be appointed (“co-opted”) by the Board itself.
The period of appointment of any member is normally 3 years but those members standing down may be re-appointed.
One-third of the Board members (the longest serving ones) stand down or for re-election each year.
Vacancies of elected Board member’s posts during any year (due to retirement, resignation, removal or death) may be filled by the Society Board subject to the appointee retiring at the next AGM (it however being open to that Board member to seek re-election).
The full Society’s Rules are available on the ArabTRUST website under the tab “ArabTRUST/Model Rules” These election rules develop the relevant provisions of the Society Rules into a working code governing the conduct of elections.
1.3 It should be emphasised that all Society Board members are expected to be able and willing to give up the required time to contribute to the work of the Society on behalf of the membership. It is no small commitment and the Board is determined to encourage the co-operative and participatory approach of all Board members which has contributed to the significant achievements of the Society to date. The Board is very glad, however, to receive assistance from all avenues and, accordingly, the membership will only be balloted in the event of there being more nominations than vacancies on the Board, including currently unfilled positions.
1.4 The intention of these rules is to provide a framework which will ensure that elections are held openly and fairly. They are not, however, intended to introduce undue bureaucracy into the process and will be applied in a common-sense manner.
1.5 In the interests of economy and the best use of Society’s funds, election notifications by the Society to the membership may be carried out wholly or partly by electronic communication, including by posting communications on the internet.
2.0 Policy on Election of Associate Director
2.1 The Society and Dundee United Football Club (“DUFC”) wish to maintain a good, positive working relationship with each other and the position of Associate Director (the “AD”) representing the Society on the DUFC board is seen as central to that relationship. The position of AD is not a full Directorship with voting rights but, in practice, enjoys full access to and attendance at Board meetings. The Society nominates an individual to DUFC to hold that position and DUFC then may make the relevant appointment of the AD on being satisfied that the nominee is a suitable person to hold that position. The Society has agreed that the position of AD should be elected by the members at AGM.
2.2 The Board wishes to maintain proper accountability of the AD to the Society Board on behalf of the membership and to ensure that anyone taking up the position of AD has demonstrated their ability to put in the required degree of commitment and effort on behalf of the Society. The Board likewise wishes to maintain some degree of continuity in terms of building a relationship with the DUFC board but also consistent with democratic accountability to the Society membership.
2.3 To achieve those aims, the Society Board agreed the following policy in relation to election of the AD:
- The AD will require to be a serving member of the Society Board who will have served on the Board for at least one year immediately prior to taking up position as AD; and
- The period of tenure of the AD from the Society will correspond to the holder’s period of office as a Society Board member (i.e. max 3 years, subject to re-election) unless the AD’s appointment by DUFC is terminated sooner.
This policy was applied in the 2005 Election with the support of the membership and is maintained for future elections.
3.0 Preparations for the Election Process
3.1 The Society Board will confirm the posts open for election for that year around 10 weeks before the AGM. At the same time, the Board will appoint a Returning Officer (the “RO”) who will be responsible for conduct of the election along with an Election Management Group (the “Group”).
3.2 That Group will both assist and oversee the RO in the conduct of the election to ensure that it is conducted openly and fairly in accordance with these rules, issue (via the RO) occasional directions to candidates on campaigning, etc. and will also determine appeals from decisions of the RO as referred to at the end of these rules.
3.3 The Group will comprise 3 persons, at least 1 of whom is a current Board member and will appoint their own chair and vice chair. The Group’s quorum will be two members and the chair will have a casting vote in the event of an equality of votes. Where practicable, the RO and/or 1 of the Group will be neutral, external parties, e.g. coming from another supporters’ trust.
3.4 No Board member standing for election may be either the RO or a member of the Group. Any Board member who is or is likely to be a candidate for election in a forthcoming election should declare their interest and not take part in any election-related business before the Board.
4.0 Nomination for Election
4.1 To be nominated for election to any of the positions open for election for that year, nominees must fully complete a Nomination Form. A blank form will accompany the letter inviting nominations (where posted, usually issued with the AGM notice to cut down postage costs). Please carefully read the notes printed on the form before completing it. The following points are particularly drawn to your attention:
- The candidate must be a current Society member;
- Each nomination must also be proposed and seconded by current Society members who must also provide their details; and
- Nominations must be received by the closing date stated on the invitation letter.
4.2 Failure to follow these requirements may invalidate the nomination. Please also bear in mind that leaving submission of nomination papers until the latest date will prevent the Returning Officer from getting in touch with candidates to try to correct any errors invalidating nomination papers.
4.3 The nomination may be supported by a written statement of not more than 250 words and not longer than 1 side of A4 paper. Any supporting statement exceeding these limits will not be distributed with election papers, if an election poll is held (to ensure a fair and level playing field amongst candidates).
4.4 The content of supporting statements and the views expressed therein are the responsibility of candidates and do not represent the views of the Society. In the event of supporting statements being found to contain material which is either defamatory or is calculated or likely to cause offence to any person or group of persons, you will be given an opportunity to amend the statement. The Society reserves the right (but without being obliged to do so) to either amend or not publish any supporting statement containing such material. Candidates are required to indemnify the Society against any claims made against it as a result of their defamatory statements.
4.5 The Society supports vigorous and healthy debate in election campaigning and will not seek to impede candidates’ right to freely express themselves on controversial or difficult issues or curtail any legitimate method of campaigning. However, the overriding requirement for candidates is that campaigning should be carried out in a respectful manner and in a way which does not bring the Society into disrepute. You must comply with any reasonable directions in that regard which may be issued (generally or specifically) from time to time by the RO on behalf of the Election Management Group.
4.6 If there are more nominations than vacancies, election papers will then be issued to all eligible ArabTRUST members for an election poll by postal ballot. Otherwise, the nominees will be taken as elected on an uncontested basis and reported to the next Society AGM for approval and election.
5.0 Postal Ballots
5.1 The following rules only apply where a postal ballot is required because there are more candidates than positions for election. Each member will receive a letter enclosing their ballot paper and confirming the return date and count date.
5.2 The Society Board has agreed to adopt a simple “first-past-the post” system where members cast 1 vote for each person they want to see elected up to the maximum number of positions, i.e. if there are 3 Board positions up for election, you put a maximum of 3 crosses on your ballot paper. You should mark your choice(s) with a cross (X) in the box on the right-hand side of the ballot paper opposite the name of the candidate(s) they are voting for. Put no other mark on the ballot paper or your vote may not be counted.
5.3 The postal ballot paper will be addressed to you personally as a member and you should complete it yourself. Only one vote is allowed for each ArabTRUST member over 16 years of age at the date of voting in accordance with the Society’s Rules. It is your responsibility to ensure that the ballot is properly completed and returned so that it counts.
5.4 Postal ballots for the Society elections are not secret ballots in a formal sense but the confidentiality of each member’s vote is respected as far as possible. The member number on the reverse of the ballot paper is there to verify the official issue of the ballot paper and the casting of only one vote per member.
5.5 Envelopes will be opened by the Returning Officer prior to the count to sort the ballots into bundles for counting purposes but the votes themselves will not be considered until the formal count. To maintain the secrecy of your vote until counting, therefore, please fold your ballot paper in half before putting it in the return envelope so that the side marked “Reverse Side” is showing outwards. You can also staple it closed but please do not use sellotape as this can damage the ballot paper so much that it is spoiled when is being opened at the count.
5.6 If you spoil your ballot paper by mistake, you can obtain a replacement by contacting the Returning Officer via the ArabTRUST e-mail address: email@example.com. Please return the spoiled ballot paper to the Returning Officer at the same time.
5.7 When You Have Completed Your Paper:
(1) Put the ballot paper (folded as indicted above) in an envelope then seal it.
(2) Return it without delay to:
The Returning Officer, c/o ArabTRUST, Tannadice Park, Tannadice Street, Dundee, DD3 7JW
The ballot paper, in order to be counted, must be received by the Returning Officer no later than the return date stated on the letter sending the ballot paper to you.
6.0 Counting Of Votes
6.1 Vote counting will take place on the date and at the place also stated on the letter sending out the ballot papers. All candidates are invited to attend the count and any ArabTRUST member may also attend to observe that the count is conducted fairly. Any candidate or member wishing to attend is requested to give at least 48 hours notice by post to the above address or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org just to make sure accommodation arrangements are sufficient. Please particularly advise if assistance for disabled access is required.
6.2 The results of the election will be reported to the next ArabTRUST AGM and, following approval, to the whole membership via the Society website and/or newsletter.
7.0 Complaints and Appeals
7.1 All decisions on the application of these rules will be taken by the RO initially. Any complaints by candidates or prospective candidates should be put in writing to the RO immediately who will try to resolve them informally initially.
7.2 If the RO cannot resolve the complaint informally (usually within 3 days of receiving the complaint), the RO will issue a written response to the complaint.
7.3 If the candidate or prospective candidate remains dissatisfied with that response, he or she may appeal to the Group in writing setting out the grounds of the appeal and why the decision of the RO is considered to be wrong. The written appeal is to be addressed to the Election Management Group c/o the postal or internet address given above and a copy of the RO’s response should be attached.
7.4 After making such enquiries as they think fit (provided that, in doing so, they act fairly between the appellant and the RO), the Group will determine the appeal and issue a written decision. The Group’s decision will be final. The Group may meet to determine the appeal or may do so by telephone or e-mail. The Group will aim to determine the appeal within 7 days of having received it.