Voting Is A Masonic Principal: Part I

by Midnight Freemasons contributor
Gregory J. Knott
(Part 1 of 2)

The conventions are over, election day draws near, and the usual round of political rhetoric from candidates is blasted all over the TV, radio and internet, voters begin to wear out and are usually just ready for Election Day to be over with.  However tired we all get with the political non-sense, we should always remember to exercise our right and responsibility to vote.

One of the most important traditions in Freemasonry is the secret ballot, specifically when it comes to voting candidates into the lodge.  Candidates, who petition for membership, must be elected by a unanimous ballot by the members present voting.  The Master of the Lodge will give instructions to the brethren of “white balls elect and black balls (or cubes) reject”.   This is where the term “black ball” originated and has become a part of the American lexicon. 

The ballot itself obtains a legal status within the lodge.  After all brethren have voted, the ballot box is presented to the Junior Warden and Senior Warden for inspection and then to the Worshipful Master who declares the candidate either elected or not.

When sitting in lodge, Masonic etiquette dictates that all of those present must ballot.  It is considered discourteous when a brother does not vote because he will skew the ballot and become the weak link in a strong chain.  One of the goals of Freemasonry is harmony amongst the brethren, thus by not voting a member can cause harm to this harmony.  Further by failing to vote the offending brethren is in direct conflict with the Master’s order.

Next installment:  Is the unanimous secret ballot still needed?


WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He's a member of both the Scottish Rite, and the York Rite, and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club in Champaign-Urbana. He's also a member of the Ansar Shrine (IL). Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts--an Eagle Scout himself, he serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois A. F. & A. M. as their representative to the National Association of Masonic Scouters.

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