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Bahá’í Administration

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1974 edition
  • Pages:
  • 196
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Pages 135-137

Spirit and Method of Bahá’í Elections

In connection with the best and most practical methods of procedure to be adopted for the election of Bahá’í Spiritual Assemblies, I feel that in view of the fact that definite and detailed regulations defining the manner and character of Bahá’í elections have neither been expressly revealed by Bahá’u’lláh nor laid down in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, it devolves upon the members of the Universal House of Justice to formulate and apply such system of laws as would be in conformity with the essentials and requisites expressly provided by the Author and Interpreter of the 136 Faith for the conduct of Bahá’í administration. I have consequently refrained from establishing a settled and uniform procedure for the election of the Assemblies of the East and the West, leaving them free to pursue their own methods of procedure which in most cases had been instituted and practiced during the last two decades of the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The general practice prevailing throughout the East is the one based upon the principle of plurality rather than absolute majority, whereby those candidates that have obtained the highest number of votes, irrespective of the fact whether they command an absolute majority of the votes cast or not, are automatically and definitely elected. It has been felt, with no little justification, that this method, admittedly disadvantageous in its disregard of the principle that requires that each elected member must secure a majority of the votes cast, does away on the other hand with the more serious disadvantage of restricting the freedom of the elector who, unhampered and unconstrained by electoral necessities, is called upon to vote for none but those whom prayer and reflection have inspired him to uphold. Moreover, the practice of nomination, so detrimental to the atmosphere of a silent and prayerful election, is viewed with mistrust inasmuch as it gives the right to the majority of a body that, in itself under the present circumstances, often constitutes a minority of all the elected delegates, to deny that God-given right of every elector to vote only in favor of those who he is conscientiously convinced are the most worthy candidates. Should this simple system be provisionally adopted, it would safeguard the spiritual principle of the unfettered freedom of the voter, who will thus preserve intact the sanctity of the choice he first made. It would avoid the inconvenience of securing advance nominations from absent delegates, and the impracticality of associating them with the assembled electors in the subsequent ballots that are often required to meet the exigencies of majority vote.
I would recommend these observations to your earnest consideration, and whatever decision you arrive at, all local Assemblies and individual believers, I am certain, will uphold, for their spiritual obligation and privilege is not only to consult freely and frequently with the National Spiritual Assembly, but to uphold as well with 137 confidence and cheerfulness whatever is the considered verdict of their national representatives.
Wishing you success from all my heart,
I am, your true brother,
Haifa, Palestine,
May 27, 1927.