North American Baha'i House of Worship, Wilmette Ilinois

The Bahá’í Electoral Process: Universal Participation in the Unit Convention

Baha'i Electoral Process Sep 5, 2023
Again I earnestly appeal to every one of you, and renew my only request with all the ardour of my conviction, to make before and during the coming Convention yet another effort, this time more spontaneous and selfless than before, and endeavour to approach your task—the election of your delegates as well as your national and local representatives—with that purity of spirit that can alone obtain our Beloved’s most cherished desire.... (23 February 1924 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá’ís of America, published in “Bahá’í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932” [rev. ed.], (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 65)

Raising up new institutions based on Bahá’u’lláh's teachings is a vital part of translating those ideals into reality. The Unit Convention is one way we can all be involved in this process.

Why is universal participation in the annual Unit Convention so important?

...[I]t is now opportune that the believers everywhere give greater attention to strengthening the process by which Assemblies, national and local, are elected. The manner of participation by all adult members of the community in these elections is a distinguishing feature of the System of Bahá’u’lláh; for it is a bounden duty that confers a high privilege upon every Bahá’í to select, as a responsible citizen of the new world being brought into existence, the composition of the institutions having authority over the functioning of the Bahá’í community. --Universal House of Justice, 25 March 2007

How can we encourage our friends to participate in the Bahá’í Unit Convention?

Now is the time to cheer and refresh the down-cast through the invigorating breeze of love and fellowship, and the living waters of friendliness and charity. – Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 7

Home Visits and Community Building

As Bahá’ís, we are building a culture of true friendships. During the next few weeks leading up to the Unit Convention, how can we demonstrate that friendship by helping our friends participate in this sacred duty?

Visiting each other in our homes is more and more becoming a regular pattern in our lives. Whenever we are visiting a Bahá’í friend, whether it is with parents involved in a children's class, planning together for a devotional gathering, reflecting together on a core activity, checking in on someone who is sick, or any other purpose - can we remember to ask each other "Do you have all the information you need about the Unit Convention?" "Do you have any questions?" "Would anything help you to be able to attend?"

If any of the friends faces an obstacle to their participation, can you consult together with others in your community to see how that obstacle can be removed? For example, if transportation is a concern, can someone in your community offer to set up a ride chain so anyone who needs transportation can be paired with someone willing to drive?

Voting eligibility age lowered to 18 years of age:

One of the most striking and inspiring features of this twenty-five-year period has been  the service rendered by Bahá’í youth, who with faith and valour have assumed their rightful  place in the forefront of the community’s efforts. As teachers of the Cause and educators of the  young, as mobile tutors and homefront pioneers, as cluster coordinators and members of Bahá’í  agencies, youth on five continents have arisen to serve their communities with devotion and  sacrifice. The maturity they have demonstrated, in the discharge of duties upon which depends  the advancement of the Divine Plan, is expressive of their spiritual vitality and their  commitment to safeguarding humanity’s future. In recognition of this increasingly evident  maturity, we have decided that, immediately following this Riḍván, while the age at which a  believer becomes eligible to serve on a Spiritual Assembly shall remain twenty-one, the age at  which a believer may vote in Bahá’í elections shall be lowered to eighteen. We have no doubt  that Bahá’í youth everywhere who are of age will vindicate our confidence in their ability to  fulfil “conscientiously and diligently” the “sacred duty” to which every Bahá’í elector is called. – Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2021

Do all of the enrolled Bahá’ís ages 18 -20 in your community know that they are eligible to vote at the Unit Convention? How can your community support their participation?

3-part image: left: a vote being put into a box; center: 9 pointed star; right: quote: "On election day, the friends must wholeheartedly participate in the elections, in unity and amity, turning their hearts to God..."-Shoghi Effendi