Early Masonic Ballot Box

BallotBox1.jpg (24457 bytes)

The box in which the ballots or little balls or cubes used in voting for a candidate are deposited.  It should be divided into two compartments, one of which is to contain both black and white balls, from which each member selects one, and the other, which is shielded by a partition provided with an aperture, to receive the ball that is to be deposited.  Various methods have been devised by which secrecy may be secured, so that a voter may select and deposit the ball he desires without the possibility of its being seen whether it is black or white.   That which has been most in use in the United States is to have the aperture so covered by a part of the box as to prevent the hand from being seen when the ball is deposited.

In balloting for a candidate for initiation, every member is expected to vote.  No one can be excused from sharing the responsibility of admission or rejection, except by the unanimous consent of the Lodge.   Where a member has himself no personal or acquired knowledge of the qualifications of the candidate, he is bound to give faith to the recommendation of his Brethren of the investigating committee, who, he is to presume, would not make a favorable report on the petition of an unworthy applicant.  The most correct method in balloting for candidates is as follows:  The committee of investigation having reported, the Master of the Lodge directs the Senior Deacon to prepare the ballot-box.  The mode in which this is accomplished is as follows:  The Senior Deacon takes the ballot-box, and, opening it, places all the white and black balls indiscriminately in one compartment, leaving the other entirely empty.  He then proceeds with the box to the Junior and Senior Wardens, who satisfy themselves by an inspection that no ball has been left in the compartment in which the votes are to be deposited.  These officers having thus satisfied themselves that the box is in a proper condition for the reception of the ballots, it is then placed upon the altar by the Senior Deacon, who retires to his seat.   The Brethren then form a line west of the altar and the one at the head advancing separately from the rest to deposit his ballot when the preceding brother leaves the box.   The Master having inquired of the Wardens if all have voted, then orders the Senior Deacon to "take charge of the ballot-box."  That officer accordingly repairs to the altar, and takes possession of the box.  Should the Senior Deacon be already in possession of the box, as in other methods of balloting, then the announcement by the Master may be "I therefore declare the ballot closed."  In either case the Senior Deacon carries it, as before, to the Junior Warden, who examines the ballot, and reports, if all the balls are white, that "the box is clear in the South," or, if there is one or more black balls, that "the box is foul or dark in the South."  The Deacon then carries it to the Senior Warden, and afterwards to the Master, who, of course, make the same report, according to the circumstance, with the necessary verbal variations of "West" and "East."  If the box is clear--that is, if all the ballots are white--the master then announces that the applicant has been duly elected, and the Secretary makes a record of the fact.  But if the box is foul or dark, the Master inspects the number of black balls or cubes; if he finds only one, he so states the fact to the Lodge, and orders the Senior Deacon again to prepare the ballot-box and the process is repeated.  If again one black ball or cube be found, or if two or more appeared on the first ballot, the Master announces that the petition of the applicant has been rejected, and directs the usual record to be made by the Secretary and the notification to be given to the Grand Lodge.  Balloting for membership or affiliation is subject to the same rules.  In both cases "previous notice, one month before," must be given to the Lodge, "due inquiry into the reputation and capacity of the candidate" must be made, and "the unanimous consent of all the members then present" must be obtained.




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