Baha'is elect Universal House of Justice

April 29, 2013
A delegate casts her ballot in the election of the Universal House of Justice, 29 April 2013.

HAIFA, Israel — More than 1,000 Baha'is from 157 countries cast their ballots today in the election to choose the nine members of the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha'i Faith.

For some three hours, the delegates to the 11th International Baha'i Convention filed one by one across the stage, each dropping a ballot into a simple wooden box. The event was characterized by a spirit of reverence and joy, with each voter being called by name, in alphabetical order by country.

The delegates to the convention are the members of Baha'i National Spiritual Assemblies, who were themselves elected by delegates chosen at the grassroots level in their own countries. Thus, virtually every adult Baha'i in the world has the opportunity to participate in the election of the Universal House of Justice.

Around 400 delegates who could not attend sent ballots by mail. Each absentee ballot was brought forward by a teller, who removed an identifying outer envelope and dropped the inner contents into the ballot box.

In the case of Iran, where the Baha'i community faces intense persecution and there is no National Spiritual Assembly, the absence of delegates was noted by the placement of a bouquet of red roses at the front of the stage.

Delegates gathered in Haifa for the 11th International Baha'i Convention. Slideshow
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Delegates gathered in Haifa for the 11th International Baha'i Convention.

During the voting, a number of procedures were taken to ensure the integrity of the process and when the voting was completed, the ballot box was sealed with tape bearing the signature of the head chief teller, Karen McKye, herself a delegate from Canada. She was assisted by three other tellers on stage, who carefully checked voters and absentee ballots against a master list of delegates and saw to it that ballots were carefully placed in the box.

The result of the election will be announced tomorrow.