Practice of "sea election" in Lishu County started in 1986 with the election of Village Committee members for Laohao village in a pilot program to develop grassroots governance. "Sea" refers to the body of people who comprise the village. By the year 1991, "sea election" had achieved maturity with the second Village Committee term election in Pingan village.
After more than ten years of exploration and experimentation, Lishu County's Village Committee Election has undergone a process of development and improvement, and after having been used to decide five term elections, the method has gradually become systemized and institutionalized, and has been widely adopted in the region. What is more important is that Lishu County's "sea election" have provided invaluable experience for the democratic election of Village Committees nationwide. The principle that villagers should exercise their rights in directly electing their village cadres has already been incorporated into the Organization Law of Village Committee, and hence the practice of "sea election" has been recommended for nationwide popularization.
"Sea elections" represent a milestone in the development of democracy at the grassroots level nationwide. Over the course of the five term elections for Village Committees in Lishu County, there have been innovations and improvements in the conduct every "sea elections". Generally, a "sea election" in Lishu County today has the following elements:
1) The "seven standards": standard procedures, standard voting papers and documents, a standard method for counting ballots, a standard ceremony for assuming office, standard organizational structures for Village Committees, standard transfer of duties, and standard election records.
2 ) No nominations. In a "sea selection" the village as a group elect the members of Village Committees directly in a single poll. Whoever wins a majority of the villagers' votes is elected. If the first poll does not fill all of the required seats on the Village Committee, then those who received the most votes in the first poll become candidates for a second-round poll, which will be decided by a plurality.
3) Campaign speeches are made before the election. Voting is done in secret and ballots are anonymous.