The better the question
When the game is on the line, can technology tackle the challenge?
The Pro Football Hall of Fame needed a digital play that would infuse speed and security into its annual voting process.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is where football legends are enshrined. The Hall’s mission is to honor the greatest of the game, preserve its history, promote its values and celebrate excellence together. Enshrinement is the ambition of every player, coach and contributor and pays lasting tribute to the talents, triumphs and integrity of pro football’s greatest icons.
Each year the Hall inducts a new class of football heroes, comprising up to five modern era players plus candidates from the coach, contributor and senior player categories. They are chosen by a 49-person Selection Committee made up primarily of news media representatives and current Hall of Famers. Traditionally, the Hall’s voting process involves multiple rounds of manual ballots and spans several months. It starts with 100-plus nominees, who are announced in September. Those 100 nominees are pared to 25 by November, and then further reduced to 15 in December. The final cuts leave five or fewer modern-era nominees, who receive a yes/no vote from the Selection Committee. The Hall’s 15-to-five process has traditionally taken place in person over the course of a full day on the Saturday before the Super Bowl.
Until recently, the voting process has been entirely manual; ballots were mailed or emailed, and all Selection Committee members had to convene in the Super Bowl host city to deliberate in person to cast their final ballots. This meant each phase had to be manually tabulated, a process that evolved to the tabulation and verification via the digital ballot and Ernst & Young LLP (EY) serving as the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s partner of choice.
“With the importance of the vote going off without a flag and the element of security and time being a factor, we needed a team we could trust and reached out to EY because of their history of proven success and bench of strong, diversified players,” said Pat Lindesmith, Executive Vice President of Sponsorships & Partnerships.
In 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hall recognized the traditional in-person meeting of all Selection Committee members would need to be canceled due to health, safety and travel concerns. The game was changing and the Hall needed an answer that would maintain its standards for integrity, confidentiality and security.
With the clock ticking down to Super Bowl LV, the Hall and EY needed to work together to roll out a new user-friendly digital platform that streamlined the voting process, had the technical functionality to count and verify votes, and maintained the security and secretive nature of the nominees and votes with record-setting accuracy and speed.
The better the answer
A digital ballot solution that changed the game
The Hall knew EY could quarterback the big play by taking voting online with a customized process that drives sustainable success.
EY has been the official vote counter of the Hall for three years. So when the Hall needed to change its process on a dime but still maintain its operational quality, voter integrity and ballot security, leaders turned to the pros at EY to discuss leveraging a technology solution initially developed by an EY wavespace™ team for annual consumer confirmation audit processes and customized to help a global financial institution elect a new bank president.
Huddling up and hitting the field
The EY team huddled up and pulled in professionals from across the firm including Mike Risk from our EY Consulting team and Dilip K. Balan from our EY Assurance practice to meet the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The EY team listened to the needs of the Hall and set out to customize a digital ballot solution in just two weeks.
“Our goal was to improve the efficiency and help ensure the integrity of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021 selection process, and we were able to accomplish that using a customized technology solution that digitized the voting process,” said Joe Lukac, Partner, Ernst & Young LLP. “We are proud to work with the Hall and assist the Selection Committee in continuing the legacy of the legends of the game.”
The EY team made the pregame adjustments, transforming paper ballots into digital ballots that leveraged unique codes for each voter to eliminate security concerns and preserve privacy. To further minimize risk, all assets were housed on a secured EY cloud platform. The team at the EY Innovation Lab built the digital ballot solution on the EY Client Technology Platform, which was reviewed and tested by our EY Infosec and Cybersecurity teams so that everything was “game ready.” Customer experience testing was then conducted via five pilot test rounds to validate user intuitiveness of the digital ballots, followed by workflow tuning for a seamless people-centered voting process capable of accommodating a digitally diverse Selection Committee.
When the voting process kicked off in October, the Hall hit the field with its new digital solution powered by EY. Additionally, EY professionals were at the ready to provide 24/7 tech support and training throughout the process. The vote happened without a single glitch, with vote tabulations going from hours to just minutes.
The better the world works
EY delivers what football is all about: speed, accuracy, teamwork
For the Hall, the voters have their voice, the players have their glory and the fans have their football legends.
The pros at EY implemented a new solution and built a tool that modernized the voting process by improving and streamlining it in just two weeks. This digital solution also increased the integrity and security of the process. Voters now have a user-friendly app that can be accessed securely on a phone, tablet or laptop, allowing EY auditors to view and validate the voting results instantaneously via live pivot tables in Excel as opposed to a manual tabulation process.
“We appreciate EY providing the Hall with a digital platform that made selecting the Class of 2021 safe, secure and efficient,” said Jim Porter, President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “This tech-driven process provides immediate results as votes are taken, shortening a long day for our Selectors and increasing the integrity of the voting process.”
This digital solution delivered many benefits for the Hall, including:
“Voting is a great responsibility, and it’s an honor for our EY teams to help ensure it’s done securely, efficiently and with integrity,” said Lukac. “We are excited to be part of the process that gives the best of the best their rightful place in football history.”