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COLLECTIONLetters from the Universal House of Justice
TITLEElectoral Process, Bahá'í: Clarifications, and Three Way Tie
AUTHOR 1 Universal House of Justice
ABSTRACTHow to resolve a 3-way tie when 2 parties are minorities; when voting, should one consider age distribution, diversity, and gender.
NOTES Posted with permission of recipient; original PDF on file.
TAGS- Administration; Diversity; Elections; Gender; Minorities
CONTENT Dear Bahá’í Friend,

The Universal House of Justice has received your email letter of ... seeking clarification of a passage in its message to the Bahá’ís of the world dated 25 March 2007 [online at] about the strengthening of the Bahá’í electoral process and asking how to resolve a three-way tie vote when two of the individuals are members of minorities. We have been asked to convey the following in response.

The purpose of the 25 March letter is to bring to the attention of the friends certain aspects of the Bahá’í electoral process that have a bearing on the sound and healthy development of the community. Your question concerns the sentence that states, “From among the pool of those whom the elector believes to be qualified to serve, selection should be made with due consideration given to such other factors as age distribution, diversity, and gender.” The meaning is not that one should cast one’s vote simply on the basis of the factors mentioned, but that one should give those factors due consideration when choosing among all those one believes to be qualified. This statement is based on explicit comments made by Shoghi Effendi concerning the criteria a believer should keep in mind when voting. He wrote:

They should disregard personalities and concentrate their attention on the qualities and requirements of office, without prejudice, passion or partiality. The Assembly should be representative of the choicest and most varied and capable elements in every Bahá’í community.
    (In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 11 August 1933 written on his behalf to an individual believer and published in The Compilation of Compilations, vol. 1 (Maryborough: Bahá’í Publications Australia, 1991), no. 712 [online at])
This principle is further elaborated by the Guardian in The Advent of Divine Justice: Unlike the nations and peoples of the earth, be they of the East or of the West, democratic or authoritarian, communist or capitalist, whether belonging to the Old World or the New, who either ignore, trample upon, or extirpate, the racial, religious, or political minorities within the sphere of their jurisdiction, every organized community enlisted under the banner of Bahá’u’lláh should feel it to be its first and inescapable obligation to nurture, encourage, and safeguard every minority belonging to any faith, race, class, or nation within it. So great and vital is this principle that in such circumstances, as when an equal number of ballots have been cast in an election, or where the qualifications for any office are balanced as between the various races, faiths or nationalities within the community, priority should unhesitatingly be accorded the party representing the minority, and this for no other reason except to stimulate and encourage it, and afford it an opportunity to further the interests of the community. In the light of this principle, and bearing in mind the extreme desirability of having the minority elements participate and share responsibility in the conduct of Bahá’í activity, it should be the duty of every Bahá’í community so to arrange its affairs that in cases where individuals belonging to the divers minority elements within it are already qualified and fulfill the necessary requirements, Bahá’í representative institutions, be they Assemblies, conventions, conferences, or committees, may have represented on them as many of these divers elements, racial or otherwise, as possible. The adoption of such a course, and faithful adherence to it, would not only be a source of inspiration and encouragement to those elements that are numerically small and inadequately represented, but would demonstrate to the world at large the universality and representative character of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and the freedom of His followers from the taint of those prejudices which have already wrought such havoc in the domestic affairs, as well as the foreign relationships, of the nations.
    (The Advent of Divine Justice (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990, 2003 printing), pp. 35–36)
As can be seen from the above passage, the principle of giving preference to representatives of minorities applies over a wide range. It is to be borne in mind by individual believers when casting their ballots, it is to be considered by Assemblies when appointing committees or calling upon individual friends to undertake responsibilities on behalf of the community, and it is to be recognized in an election when a member of a minority is involved in a tie vote with another believer.

As to how a tie is to be broken among three individuals when two are members of minorities, another vote should be taken to select between the two minorities.

    With loving Bahá’í greetings,
    Department of the Secretariat
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