Communities elect national governing councils

May 5, 2016
Delegate casts ballot at the 2016 national convention in the United States.

BAHA'I WORLD CENTRE — Baha'i communities around the world have elected their national administrative bodies in a unique electoral process.

Each year, during the Baha'i festival of Ridvan, delegates in virtually every country around the world gather together to elect the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of their country, a nine-member council responsible for guiding, coordinating, and stimulating the activities of the Baha'is in its jurisdiction. This year, national elections took place over two weekends: 23–24 April and 30 April–1 May.

Baha'i elections are distinct for their lack of nomination and campaigning. The entire process is free of electioneering, nomination or canvassing. Electors vote by secret ballot at national conventions for the nine people they believe best suited for membership on the national governing council according to their conscience in a spirit of prayer, giving consideration to moral character and practical ability.

Participants at the 2016 national convention in Tanzania. Slideshow
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Participants at the 2016 national convention in Tanzania.

National conventions are also an occasion for delegates to consult and share insights about the progress of the Baha'i community in their country. "I have attended conventions before, but this was the first time as a delegate, and it really felt like I was attending for the first time," shared one participant at the national convention in South Africa. "It's a wonderful experience to listen to the friends' consultations and reflect together as a national community on how the House of Justice is guiding us. I am excited to take this all back home."