With Ridvan comes the National Baha’i Conventions as Baha’is everywhere around the world elect their new National Spiritual Members. Due to a systematic incumbency bias, the “new” NSA’s are more than likely exactly the same as the “old” NSA. That certainly is the case in North America.
In the US, the delegates at the 14th Baha’i National Convention elected the following members (in descending order of votes):
Kenneth E. Bowers
Jacqueline Left Hand Bull
David F. Young
Juana C. Conrad
S. Valerie Dana
Robert C. Henderson
These were the same 9 individuals who were on the NSA previously. To illustrate just how much incumbency controls these elections, the first 5 members received the same order of magnitude of votes as last year (Kenneth E. Bowers the most, Jacqueline Left Hand Bull next, and so forth).
In Canada, the “new” National Spiritual Assembly is:
Mehran Anvari (Vice-Chairperson)
Deloria Bighorn (Chairperson)
Karen McKye (Secretary)
Enayat Rawhani (Treasurer)
These individuals have been elected to the NSA for many years. Judy Filson and Enayat Rohani have been serving for more than 17 years consecutively. For the NSA as a whole, the average consecutive membership is between 9-10 years. This means that on average each person has been an NSA member for about 10 years continuously.
Lisa Flynn, the youngest and newest member of the NSA replaces Simon Grandy who was in turn also the youngest and newest member at the time of his election in 2010. Flynn was previously on the appointed arm of the administration serving as an assistant ABM.
One interesting note is from the official US Baha’i Unit Convention site which tells us that less than 25% of eligible voters participate in these important elections:
This low participation rate certainly exacerbates the existing incumbency bias and further reinforces it. As the same nine people are elected again and again, individual Baha’is feel an increasing sense of apathy which keeps the participation rate low.