Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Questions About the Ballot

An interested Brother writes: I have a few obscure ballotting questions:
What if a brother gets the box to vote and there are no black balls in it? Should he assume that they are all used? Can he refuse to vote, or demand that there be some made available?
What if a brother knows that there are black balls cast, but yet the ballot is declared clear? (suggested to me as being within the Master's power and legend has it that that is how Masters did it in the old days)
Once a ballot is closed can there be objections raised, and a re-ballot ordered?
Does the Sr. Deacon go without the door to get the Tyler's vote, or is he called in to vote?
If business is being conducted on the First Degree, can an Entered Apprentice vote?

I don’t really think that most of your questions are answered in the Minnesota Masonic Code. But definitely, if a Brother is ready to vote and the color or shape that he needs cannot be found, then I think he should make that fact known immediately to the Master. One of the things that is said by the W. Master right before the ballot takes place, is “Brother Sr. Deacon, prepare the ballot box.” Preparing the ballot box must mean more that picking it up off of a table. He should check and be sure there are plenty of all choices available. If the Sr. Deacon does not do that then he should probably be talked to about it before a fresh ballot takes place.
So let me get this right, the second question assumes at least three of the three top officers of the lodge are lying to the lodge in performance of their official duties. I don’t really know how to respond to that. Perhaps
I would assume that a mistake was made but that I as the black balling voter must have made the mistake by putting in a white ball instead of a black ball?
I see no provision anyplace for objecting to a ballot after it has taken place. The sideliners only recourse would be then to object the candidate before or at the time of the Entered Apprentice Degree.
The correct place for the Tyler is outside of a tyled lodge room. But many lodges now make it a practice of inviting the Tyler into the room and then allow him to exit just before the closing. I have no big problem with this other than it is technically not correct and that it really leaves the lodge untyled. But if he is inside then he can vote, if he is a member in good standing of that lodge. The Tyler need not be a member of the lodge for which he is the Tyler. It would be incorrect for the Sr. Deacon to go to the Tyler’s door to have him vote. Members eligible to vote are those members in good standing who are inside the tyled lodge room at the time of the ballot.
And in response to the last question, only members of the lodge can vote. With a change to the Minnesota Masonic Code about ten years ago, we made it permissible for a lodge to open on the Entered Apprentice Degree or the Fellowcraft Degree so those Masons could attend meetings prior to being raised as Master Masons, but that did not change the definition of a member of the lodge:
ARTICLE XIII. Chartered Lodges
Composition - Degrees - Demits - Membership - SECTION G13.01 A Lodge shall be composed of its charter members who shall be petitioners for dispensation whose demits are filed with the Grand Secretary prior to the issuance of the charter and all Master Masons raised while under dispensation. The Grand Secretary shall keep a roll of such charter members. No demits need be filed for dispensation for an Educational Lodge. After receiving a charter, all Master Masons receiving degrees conferred, and all petitioners accepted for affiliation, reinstatement or restoration, by ballot, shall be members thereof. No Lodge shall be named for any living person and shall be numbered according to the dates of their respective charters.