Hosted by the Memphis TN Spiritual Assembly – Applicable only to the EU066 (Appalachia) Region

Dearest Friends of Electoral Unit EU066,

The time for the annual Delegate Election is approaching where adult Baha’is will cast their ballot to elect the 2020 Baha’i Delegate for Electoral Unit 066 (EU066). Your participation is vital as the delegates that are elected from across the country, from every Electoral Unit, will cast their ballots to elect the National Spiritual Assembly of the US at the annual National Convention. Then every five years the National Spiritual Assemblies will cast their ballots to elect the Universal House of Justice.  Our beloved National Spiritual Assembly has charged each Service Unit with increasing participation across the country.  Although we may not be able to meet in person due to the pandemic the National Spiritual Assembly has made it even easier than ever to participate by utilizing the Online Balloting System. Even if you have never participated before, the time to embrace this critical yet simple practice of electing your EU Delegate has never been easier or more vital.

Each year this election takes place in the Fall and is conducted at our Unit Convention by a hosting assembly in the Service Unit. This year has been breaking the norms we are all accustomed to, and the Delegate election is no exception. The National Spiritual Assembly has decided that delegate elections this Fall will be conducted solely by absentee ballot and no Unit Conventions gatherings will be held.

There are 3 ways to cast your vote:

  • Electronically through the Online Balloting System
  • Mail in absentee ballot
  • Call in (only if the first two are not feasible)

Voting electronically through the Online Balloting System:

The option to vote electronically is open to those who have an email address on file at the Bahá’í National Center and regularly receive Feast messages by email. On September 26, those friends will receive an email invitation from the Online Balloting System (OBS) that will provide a link through which they may vote.

Online voting using OBS will begin on Saturday, September 26 at 8:00 a.m. (CDT) and end on Friday, October 2 at midnight (CDT). If you have any difficulties with this method, live assistance will be available during business hours on those dates. Votes will be tallied by tellers on the weekend of October 3-4. This is the preferred method of voting and the OBS requires the voter to provide your Baha’i ID number. Please ensure your email is updated with National by logging into www.bahai.us/community/profile

If you receive the monthly Feast letter via email your email is up to date, you are subscribed, and you will receive the OBS ballot.  If your email is correct with National but you do not receive the Feast letter email then contact the Office of the Secretary secretariat@usbnc.org 847-733-3537 to resubscribe.

Voting by mail-in absentee ballot

A blank ballot and two envelopes to be used for voting by mail will be sent by National. To vote by mail-in absentee ballot, please follow the instructions below so that your ballot will be valid:

  1. Print on the ballot the name of the person you feel is best qualified to serve as a delegate. You will be voting for one delegate. You must choose only from adult believers who reside in EU066.
  2. Insert the completed ballot in the small envelope marked Delegate Election Ballot and seal it. There should be no markings on the outside of this envelope.
  3. Insert the Delegate Election Ballot envelope into the slightly larger envelope, seal the larger envelope, and write your name and Bahá’í ID number in the upper left-hand corner.
  4. Address the outer envelope to Memphis LSA c/o Jan Peterson 143 Harbor Ridge Ln. S. Memphis, TN 38103-8886. Your EU number and the mailing address can be confirmed after signing in to the national website (www.bahai.us/community/profile).
  5. Mail your ballot as soon as possible. All ballots received by October 2 will be counted. However, to allow for possible delays in postal service, please postmark your ballot by September 18.

Call In

The Memphis Spiritual Assembly would like to strongly encourage each and every voter to strive and vote using the OBS per National Guidelines. If neither the OBS or mail in option is feasible you may call Jan Peterson, chief teller, at 901-336-2806 during the voting period to submit your ballot.

We would also like to encourage building bonds of friendship around this basic tenant of the Baha’i Faith; perhaps start a deepening for those new to the Faith, reach out to a friend and deepen on the writings enclosed within this letter together, or simply focus your household devotional on this topic for the month of September. However you choose to move forward, we ask that you set time aside during the month of September to meditate on the purpose of this election and how you directly contribute to the administrative process.

Although we will miss seeing your beautiful faces and sharing in fellowship in person, as in years past, we hope that your heart is lifted and thoughts are focused as you contribute to this ever-advancing civilization by fulfilling this sacred duty.

Your vote matters.

With loving regards, on behalf of the Memphis Spiritual Assembly,

Tonya and Brian Warmbrod

Further deepening on the spiritual nature of Baha’i elections can be found by studying Ruhi Book 8, Unit 2, Section 12 and by continuing to read below.

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We have been impressed by how many communities have taken great strides in adapting to this new reality. Far from viewing the present period as simply a hiatus to be endured with patience, they have recognized that the state of the world has made the need to render meaningful service to humanity more urgent.
The Universal House of Justice, Message of May 9, 2020

On the election day, the friends must whole-heartedly participate in the elections, in unity and amity, turning their hearts to God, detached from all things but Him, seeking His guidance and supplicating His aid and bounty.
Shoghi Effendi

The Bahá’ís should not always be the last to take up new and obviously excellent methods, but rather the first, as this agrees with the dynamic nature of the Faith which is not only progressive, but holds within itself the seeds of an entirely new culture and civilization.
Shoghi Effendi

Shoghi Effendi repeatedly advised the friends that they should be uncompromising in principle but flexible in subsidiary details.
Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice dated October 22, 1986

Guidance on Bahá’í Elections

As you act to fulfill your responsibilities as a Bahá’í elector, you may wish to reflect on the following quotations from the Writings of Shoghi Effendi and three excerpts from communications of the Universal House of Justice addressing the attitude believers should adopt toward the electoral process and the qualifications for service they should consider as they cast their ballots.

Quotations from the Writings of Shoghi Effendi

…I earnestly appeal to every one of you … to … endeavor to approach your task … with that purity of spirit that can alone obtain our Beloved’s most cherished desire. Let us recall His explicit and often-repeated assurances that every Assembly elected in that rarefied atmosphere of selflessness and detachment is, in truth, appointed of God….

Let them exercise the utmost vigilance so that the elections are carried out freely, universally and by secret ballot. Any form of intrigue, deception, collusion and compulsion must be stopped and is forbidden.

Beware, beware lest the foul odour of the parties and peoples … and their pernicious methods, such as intrigues, party politics and propaganda—practices which are abhorrent even in name—should ever reach the Bahá’í community, exert any influence whatsoever upon the friends, and thus bring all spirituality to naught. The friends should, through their devotion, love, loyalty and altruism, abolish these evil practices, not imitate them. It is only after the friends completely ignore and sanctify themselves from these evils, that the spirit of God can penetrate and operate in the body of humanity, and in the Bahá’í community.

The strength and progress of the Bahá’í community depend upon the election of pure, faithful and active souls….

I feel that reference to personalities before the election would give rise to misunderstanding and differences…. We should refrain from influencing the opinion of others….

…the elector … is called upon to vote for none but those whom prayer and reflection have inspired him to uphold….

The electors … must prayerfully and devotedly and after meditation and reflection elect faithful, sincere, experienced, capable and competent souls who are worthy of membership….

…the friends must wholeheartedly participate in the elections, in unity and amity, turning their hearts to God, detached from all things but Him, seeking His guidance and supplicating His aid and bounty. If we but turn our gaze to the high qualifications of the members of Bahá’í Assemblies … we are filled with feelings of unworthiness and dismay, and would feel truly disheartened but for the comforting thought that if we rise to play nobly our part every deficiency in our lives will be more than compensated by the allconquering spirit of His grace and power. Hence it is incumbent upon the chosen delegates to consider without the least trace of passion and prejudice, and irrespective of any material consideration, the names of only those who can best combine the necessary qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience.

Extracts from communications of the Universal House of Justice

The House of Justice appreciates that many of the voters at a district election may have a limited acquaintance with the believers of the area, although naturally they will do all they can during the year to follow the news of the work of the Faith and the activities of their fellow believers. All that any voter can do is to vote for those among the believers who are known to him either personally or by reputation, trusting in God to produce ultimately the best result for the Faith.
Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 14, 1982

Responsibilities of Delegates to the Bahá’í National Convention

Foremost is the election of your National Assembly, when you will choose individuals who can meet the pressing requirements of the progress of the Cause at the present stage of its development. Our letter dated 25 March 2007 was intended to strengthen the Bahá’í electoral process, and we urge you to give renewed consideration to its salient points…. Delegates are obliged to become “intelligent, well- informed and responsible” electors so as to “be able to make a wise choice at the election time.” They enjoy the unfettered right to choose from among all those eligible, whether it be to retain members or to select new ones. The community wholeheartedly embraces the result of the election, confident that the delegates have cast their ballots for those for whom prayer and reflection have inspired them to vote.
Extract from message of the Universal House of Justice to delegates gathered at National Conventions, May 16, 2013

Within the administrative arrangements of the Bahá’í community there are a number of spaces that allow for the exchange of views, including cluster reflection gatherings, institutional meetings, and the Nineteen-Day Feast. The National Convention is another such occasion, but unique in that it brings together the National Assembly and elected representatives from all parts of the country. The conduct of this consultative dimension of the Convention calls for thoughtful attention.

Shoghi Effendi stated that the National Convention should “fulfil the functions of an enlightened, consultative and co-operative body that will enrich the experience, enhance the prestige, support the authority, and assist the deliberations of the National Spiritual Assembly.” Although delegates are to offer their views in a full, frank, and unhampered manner, he advised that time not be spent on problems of secondary importance and that disruptive forces, “which are but the outcome of human passion and selfishness,” should be resisted. Instead, the Guardian expected those assembled to “approach their task with absolute detachment” and “concentrate their attention on the most important and pressing issues” in order to obtain a “deeper and broader vision of the Cause through an increase in the spirit of unity and of whole hearted co-operation.” “The unfettered freedom of the individual should be tempered with mutual consultation and sacrifice,” he explained, “and the spirit of initiative and enterprise should be reinforced by a deeper realization of the supreme necessity for concerted action and a fuller devotion to the common weal.”

Throughout the community, as the processes of the Divine Plan have become more and more complex, the nature of discussions on matters pertaining to growth and development of the Faith has evolved. A distinctive conversation is carried out, sometimes formally and often informally, at various levels and in different configurations. In every setting, each participant, whatever the nature of his or her service, provides a particular contribution and takes away fresh insight. From this rich set of interactions about experience unfolding within the Plan’s framework for action, consensus on strategies and plans emerges naturally. Among institutions, discussions flourish in an atmosphere of love and genuine respect, and unity of thought is readily achieved…. This conversation of the Bahá’í world, grounded in allegiance to Bahá’u’lláh and safeguarded by firmness in His Covenant, increasingly transcends the habits of speech characteristic of an age preoccupied with trivial or misdirected interests. With time, accrued experience, and continued guidance, this ongoing conversation comes to be distinguished by a more worthy etiquette of expression and gradually clarifies ambiguities, expands participation, airs concerns, strengthens bonds of love and association, refocuses endeavour, reconciles differences, resolves problems, and contributes to happiness and well-being.

Your consultations with the National Assembly at the Convention take place within the context of the larger set of relationships that bind the Plan’s three protagonists and must increasingly reflect the features of this distinctive conversation. Each year the Riḍván message sets the stage for the discussions at Convention by conveying a sense of the current progress of the Bahá’í world and the work that lies ahead. Your contribution, though free and frank, is not characterized by insistence on personal opinion. While there may be a wide range of important topics, attention to the progress of the Five Year Plan and the requirements of its remaining years cannot be neglected. You bring to the Convention insights gleaned from the conversation unfolding within your region. In this way, you enrich the perspective of the National Assembly and become informed of its hopes, challenges, and aims. You enhance your own understanding of the affairs of the Cause from a national perspective and rededicate yourself to the community’s common enterprise.