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To the American Bahá’í community - Concerning voting in primary elections

posted Apr 6, 2016, 1:55 AM by Charles Thilking
April 5, 2016
    To the American Bahá’í community
    Dear Bahá’í Friends,

   Further to our letter of March 8, 2016 to this much-loved community, in which clear
statements were made regarding the avoidance of partisan politics, many friends responded
with questions concerning voting in primary elections. It was stated in the letter that “nor
should we, even as an ‘independent,’ vote in primaries–the purpose of which is to elect
delegates to political conventions.”

   Upon further research, it has been determined that this is inaccurate, as many electoral
districts do not require individuals to affiliate themselves with a particular political party in
order to vote in the primary. In a letter dated February 4, 2008 to an individual believer, the
Universal House of Justice states that:

   A Bahá’í may not vote in a primary election if in order to do so he or she must
declare membership or affiliation with, or support for, a particular political party.
But if the ballot is secret, a Bahá’í is free to vote in any political election provided
that he does not, by doing so, identify himself with any political party and bears in
mind that he is voting on the merits of the individual rather than because he
belongs to one party or another.

   Individual Bahá’ís, therefore, bear the responsibility of researching the election laws
in their particular electoral district to determine whether or not the above-mentioned
criteria have been met and may vote their consciences as they see fit.
We are happy to make this clarification, but remind the friends to not lose sight of the
larger point of the original letter, that is, we should eschew any semblance of
involving ourselves in the divisive partisan aspects of our political system.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,
Kenneth E. Bowers

Charles Thilking,
Apr 6, 2016, 1:55 AM