A global election process that began with people in 100,000 cities and villages around the world will culminate on 29 April when delegates gather here to elect the international governing body of the Baha'i Faith.
Representatives of some 170 nations will cast ballots for the nine members of the Universal House of Justice, which has its seat at the Baha'i World Centre in Haifa. The election is held every five years.
Baha'i elections are distinctive in that there are no nominations, no campaigning, and no discussion about which individuals should be elected.
The delegates to the International Baha'i Convention - members of all the Baha'i national governing bodies around the world - vote by secret ballot for the nine people they believe best suited for membership on the supreme institution of their Faith.
The Baha'i writings state that voters should try to choose people "of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience."
For Baha'is, the Universal House of Justice is the highest religious authority. It guides the worldwide Baha'i community in its development and in its response to changing world conditions, provides for Baha'i pilgrimage, holds in trust and maintains the Baha'i holy places, and administers international Baha'i funds.
Any male age 21 and over is eligible for election to the Universal House of Justice. Both women and men serve on all other Baha'i institutions-international, continental, national and local.
The election process began well over a year ago when Baha'is in some 100,000 localities around the world began meeting in district conventions to elect delegates to their own national conventions. At those gatherings, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of each country is elected.
The members of those national councils gather as electors at the global level for the International Baha'i Convention, to be held from 29 April to 2 May in Haifa.
About 1,200 delegates are expected to attend the convention. Those unable to attend send ballots by mail.
The establishment of the institution of the Universal House of Justice was called for by Baha'u'llah Himself, the founder of the Baha'i Faith.
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