Chapter 68

The Secret Ballot


No ballot shall be taken on a petition for the degrees, an application for affiliation, or an application for restoration at any other than a stated communication.

1. No ballot shall be taken in less than twenty-eight days from the time the petition or application was received by the lodge.

2. No ballot shall be taken until the report of the Grand Secretary has been received by the lodge.

3. No ballot shall be taken until a Committee of Investigation shall have reported thereon unless otherwise provided by law.

4. A secret ballot on any subject taken in violation of the law of this Grand Lodge is illegal and void.

5. Another secret ballot on the same subject shall not be taken until it has been authorized by the Grand Master, and then only at a stated communication. [43-3.7; 45-3.4; 45-3.4.B; 45-3.4.C; 45-3.4.D; 59-2.12; 65-1; 65-8; 65-9; 68-8; 68-11; 68-8.2; 73-3; 75-11.1; 78-2.2; 78-2.2.D; 78-2.2.E; 81-2; 101-6].


After the report of the Committee of Investigation on a petition or an application has been received, there shall be a secret ballot unless Regulation 66-2, 67-4, and 67-6apply. The Master may in his discretion postpone the ballot thereon until the next stated communication unless otherwise provided by law, but there shall be no further postponement except by unanimous consent of the lodge. [59-2.12; 63-4; 68-14; 73-3].


After the reports of the Grand Secretary and the Committee of Investigation have been received the ballot shall be taken as follows.

1. When a ballot has begun it shall not be suspended or postponed, nor shall it be interrupted by the admission or withdrawal of any brother, except the Tyler, to vote, and the brother who relieves the Tyler, but brethren shall be permitted to enter or retire between ballots on different persons or propositions.

2. A ballot has begun when the Master announces the name of the person to be balloted on or the proposition to be balloted on, and is not completed until the Master has announced or declared the result. [63-5.4; 63-11; 68-3.18].

3. Not more than one petition or proposition shall be voted on at the same time, and the simultaneous use of different or multiple ballot boxes on different petitions or applications or propositions is hereby prohibited. [44-7 (Art.21E); 45-21.5]. (This section amended, effective January 1, 2006)

4. The Master shall order the Senior Deacon to prepare the ballot.

5. The Senior Deacon, after preparing the ballot box, shall pass it in turn to the Junior Warden, to the Senior Warden and then to the Master, that they may see that it is properly prepared.

6. Immediately prior to balloting the Master shall state clearly to the lodge the following: [68-3.1]

A. The full name of the petitioner or applicant,

B. His age, occupation, and the address of his residence and his business,

C. Names of the brethren who recommend him if recommenders are required by law, and
D. The character of report made by the Committee of Investigation.

7. The Master shall then announce

A. the name of the person whose petition is about to be balloted upon, or the proposition to be balloted upon, and

B. state that white balls elect and black cubes reject, requesting each member who favors the reception of the candidate or the adoption of the proposition to deposit a white ball and each one who opposes the same to deposit a black cube, cautioning him to be careful and avoid mistakes. [59-2.45].

8. The Master shall then cast his ballot, and the Senior Deacon shall pass the box to the Senior Warden and then to the Junior Warden, each of whom, in turn, shall then cast his ballot.

9. The Master may order the Senior Deacon to pass the ballot box to a member within the lodge who is physically unable otherwise to cast his ballot, and this should be done before the ballot box is placed on the altar for voting. To pass the ballot box to a member in the anteroom is irregular, it not being in the room proper. A brother in the anteroom is absent from the lodge. If the Tyler is qualified to vote, he should be relieved by a brother and should enter the lodge to vote. [63-11; 68-3.9; 63-5.4].

10. The box shall then be placed upon the altar or upon a pedestal near the altar, and the Senior Deacon shall cast his ballot, after which the other officers and members present shall approach and cast their ballots.

11. When all have voted the Senior Deacon shall exhibit the ballot first to the Junior Warden, then to the Senior Warden, and finally to the Master.

12. If the Master finds that the ballot is clear, or that there is more than one black cube, he shall ask the Wardens how they find the ballot and not until then, shall he proclaim the result. (If a lodge has enacted the alternate ballot procedure under special local provision Article 19 of lodge bylaws, pursuant to Chapter 44, that procedure shall be supplemented after and/or in place of the procedure set forth here.) (This section amended, effective 1/1/ 2009)

13. In case only one black cube appears, the Master shall not then declare the result but immediately at the same communication order a reballot without discussion on the part of the members or any intervening act or business, the result of the reballot shall be declared, and it shall be final except as provided in Regulation 68-8. (If a lodge has enacted the alternate ballot procedure under special local provision Article 19 of lodge bylaws, pursuant to Chapter 44, that procedure shall be supplemented after and/or in place of the procedure set forth here.) [63-5.4; 68-8.2 (This section amended, effective 1/1/2009)

14. If the Wardens disagree in their report, the Master shall examine the ballot box carefully and order it returned to the Warden whose report was in error. When the reports of both Wardens and the Master agree and are correct, the Master shall declare the ballot. [59-2.45].

15. In any secret ballot white balls are affirmative votes and black cubes are negative votes. A unanimously favorable ballot of white balls shall be required to elect a petitioner or an applicant, or to adopt any proposition submitted to the secret ballot. (If a lodge has enacted the alternate ballot procedure under special local provision Article 19 of lodge bylaws, pursuant to Chapter 44, that procedure shall be supplemented after and/or in place of the procedure set forth here.) (This section amended, effective 1/1/2009) [42-9; 65-1; 75-11.2; 75-11.3; 75-11.4; 75-11.5].

16. No member of the lodge shall be excused from voting in a secret ballot. [63-4; 68-3.9; 68-3.1; 45-23.17].

17. The Master shall decide and declare the result of a secret ballot at once, and he shall then destroy the ballot to preserve its secrecy. [63-5.4].

18. In the event an error, mistake, or irregularity in connection with a secret ballot comes to the attention of the Master while the balloting is in progress and beforethe ballot has been announced or declared by the Master as required in Subdivisions 68-3.13 and 68-3.14 of this regulation, the Master shall immediately stop the balloting when the matter comes to his attention. The ballot shall not be examined by anyone, but it shall be destroyed at once and another ballot shall be taken immediately complying fully with Regulations 63-5.4, 68-3.13, 68-3.14, and 68-3.1 provided no member has entered or retired from the lodge room, except the Tyler and the brother relieving him and that the brother relieving the Tyler has returned to the lodge room.

19. A secret ballot is begun when the Master announces the name of the person, or the proposition, to be balloted on. It is not completed until the Master hasannounced or declared the result. [68-3.14].

20. After the Master declares the result of a secret ballot, no further balloting on that particular petition or application or specific proposition just balloted on shall take place, except by order of the Grand Master as provided in Regulations 68-8 and 68-8.2.


The Secretary of the lodge shall notify the petitioner or the applicant of the action by the lodge. [Official Forms 20 and 21].


In every case of a secret ballot it shall be unmasonic for any brother to make known in any way the character of his vote or purposely seek out the character of another's vote, or if known to him, to reveal it to another, the penalty for which, upon conviction, shall be expulsion. The intention of this Regulation is to preserve to the lodge and the Craft the full benefits and results of a secret ballot. Each member voting is the sole judge of what his vote shall be, and he shall not be questioned therefor or on account thereof. [86-2.6].

1. It is a Masonic offense for a brother, during a secret ballot, to exhibit his ballot, in any way, that it can become known to another, or to seek in any manner, to ascertain the total number of ballots cast. If convicted, the penalty shall be expulsion. [86-2.6; Chapter 100].

2. No officer or member shall disclose at any time the number of black cubes cast. [86-2.6].


Explanatory remarks to a very limited extent and in proper terms before balloting on a petitioner for the degrees or applicant for membership are admissible, but would be unmasonic after the ballot has been taken. No debate shall be permitted in open lodge upon the merits or demerits of any candidate at, or before, or after the time of balloting. The secret vote of each member is the only legal expression of his opinion. [67-4.4].


The ballot of a lodge upon a petitioner for the degrees or an applicant for affiliation over whom it has no jurisdiction, or who is not qualified, shall be void and of no effect.

1. If a lodge should discover, after a ballot is had on a petition for degrees and before the Entered Apprentice degree or the Fellow Craft degree or the Degree of Master Mason has been conferred, that does not have jurisdiction, it shall not proceed further until it has been authorized by the Grand Master to act. [42-7.1; 42-9; 42-4].

2. With the Grand Master's authorization the lodge may proceed as provided in Regulation 42-4. [42-5; 75-1; 75-8].


The Grand Master shall not have the power to grant a dispensation authorizing another ballot on the same petition or application after it has been rejected by the lodge andso declared by the Master except when it is made to appear to the satisfaction of the Grand Master by positive and unquestionable evidence that the ballot was clearlyand grossly illegal, or void, or that the lodge actually balloted on the wrong person, or could have done so through similarity of names, improper announcement by the Master or other cause whereby the actual and correct identification of the petitioner or applicant being balloted on was not made clear.

1. In such cases the Grand Master may authorize a reballot at a stated communication.

2. The dispensation authorizing the reballot shall contain a proviso that all members of the lodge shall be given not less than ten days' notice by first-class mail under sealed cover of the reballot and the time and place therefor.

3. No such reballot shall be had after two months from the date of rejection. [59-3.6; 68-11].


One clear ballot shall entitle the petitioner to the three degrees except when a candidate is in default, when objection is made to his initiation, when an Entered Apprentice or Fellow Craft of a defunct lodge transfers his membership to another lodge. In these cases the petitioner or applicant for the degree or degrees must again pass the ordeal of the ballot. [65-1; 65-5; 68-3.15; 69-2; 71-1; Chapter 73].


Every lodge shall have a ballot box so constructed as to enable every member to cast his vote secretly and it shall be equipped with a sufficient number of white balls and black cubes to enable every brother to express his preference freely. A white ball shall constitute an affirmative vote, and a black cube shall constitute a negative vote.


A lodge shall not give notice through the mail or otherwise that a ballot will be had on the petition or application of a person named in such notice except a notice shall be given for a reballot as provided in Regulation 68-8. [43-3.7; 68-1; 68-8.2].


A lodge has the right to ballot on the petition for the degrees of one who has moved from its jurisdiction after the reception of his petition. [42-5; 42-13; 66-3].


If a petition or application becomes lost after it is received, the lodge may proceed upon a duplicate thereof.


Petitions or applications need not be balloted on in the order in which they are received. [59-2.12; 68-2].


A lodge having lawful jurisdiction shall be the sole judge of its petitioner's or applicant's qualifications, subject to the law of this Grand Lodge. Protests from a member of another lodge should receive the fullest consideration, but further than that they cannot prevail. [13-4.4; 41-10.4; 66-2].


No vote shall be taken nor any means be used to ascertain, directly or indirectly, the sense of the lodge as to whether a petition for the degrees or an application for membership will probably be rejected, accepted, or otherwise disposed of.


No persons rejected for any purpose by a secret ballot shall have the right to appeal from, or in any manner whatever contest, the result thereof. [Chapter 63].


If a petition for the degrees has been read and received in open lodge and the petitioner is not elected or rejected within a period of twelve months the petition shall be null and void and if the petitioner desires to again petition a lodge, he can do so only by presenting a new petition in regular form which shall take the same procedure governing the original petition for the degrees. [59-2.47; 65-6; 67-2].


Applications for affiliations (Form 18) may be voted on collectively. If there is an objection or one or more negative votes are cast, the balloting will commence on each aplication individually following the procedure in Regulation 68-3.