Free from any form of ecclesiasticism, having neither priesthood
nor manmade ritual, and forbidding asceticism, monasticism, and
mendicancy, the Baha'i Faith relies on a pattern of local,
national, and international administration, created by
Baha'u'llah, elaborated by Abdu'l-Baha, and implemented by Shoghi
Effendi.  There are currently approximately 20,000 local
assemblies and over 145 National Assemblies throughout the world.
The affairs of the local Baha'i community are administered by a
nine-member local Spiritual Assembly elected annually. 
Nationally, a nine-member body is elected each year by delegates
who have in turn been elected by Baha'is at the local level.  The
international governing body, the Universal House of Justice, is
elected once every five years in Haifa, Israel at an
international convention attended by members of the national
assemblies.  All Baha'i elections are by secret ballot, with no
nominations or electioneering. 
In administering the affairs of the community, the institutions
of the Baha'i Faith practice a form of consultation that involves
full and frank discussion of issues under consideration.  Matters
are discussed with a desire to ascertain the facts and to come to
a decision that is based on spiritual principles and is
unencumbered by personal attachment to points of view.  The
Baha'i writings state: "The shining spark of truth comes forth
only after the clash of differing opinions."  While the goal of
consultation is unanimous agreement upon a course of action, when
unanimity cannot be reached, a vote is taken, and the decision of
the majority prevails.