It seems as if every communication we have had lately involved a ballot. I started to think… Where did it originate? Why do we elect by ballot? Why black and white?
Black and white are extreme opposites. They are not considered colors; One is referred to as light, the other absence of light. Some artists may consider them shades, but they present the most perfect symbols of complete opposites. Also, they represent day and night, since the beginning of man's knowledge, black has been associated with night, while white has been the symbol of the day.
Also, in Masonry, and other schools of education, darkness has been the symbol of ignorance, while light has been the symbol of knowledge. These are also two exact opposites. A man may be color-blind to the different colors in the spectrum, but no man is so blind to color that he cannot tell the difference between black and white unless he is totally blind.
The ballot is made up of black and white balls, because from the beginning of man up into the period known as the dark ages and even later, the great majority of men could neither read nor write. This was a common fact even among the nobility; even kings had their scribes for the purposes of writing their letters and dispatches. Therefore, it is only natural that a ballot of any secret nature could only be held by the simple process of a black and white pebble or stone, as the casting of a yes or no vote, as direct opposites there could be no question in counting the ballots. Also, a small pebble could be held out of site in the hand until deposited in a common bowl.
Why do we have a secret ballot? The ballot on a petition should always be strictly secret and inviolable and should be so spread that no one present will know how any other Brother has voted. In casting your ballot as a Freemason, it is every member’s duty to pay particular attention to the reading of the report from the investigation committee on a particular candidate. This committee is charged by the Worshipful Master to investigate the motives of the petitioner for wanting to join Freemasonry and determine whether he is a man freeborn, of lawful age and well recommended.
The Investigating Committee is the preparatory work of the ballot. If you are charged by the Master to investigate a petitioner, be as thorough as you possibly can. Do not be hesitant to ask him or his family personal question within reason.
There are some anti-masons out there or some that are not worthy of such an honored title. A Mason therefore may have cause to reject by casting a black ball, whether that be a relative, his own employer, his own minister, or even a local judge, if he knows them to manifest good reason not to be accepted as a member. There are many reasons why a ballot must be secret, but above all is a Mason's livelihood and peace of mind may be at stake if his ballot were to be discovered.
The ballot on a petition for initiation, or for affiliation, can be taken only at a stated communication, and if the ballot shall contain only one black cube, the petitioner shall be rejected. If this happens the rejected candidate may present a new petition after a period of six months.
Only members present of the lodge must vote. No one can be excused, ask to be excused or state any reason for voting or not voting. The Tyler, while attending to his duties, is not present in the sense that he must vote, but he shall be accorded the opportunity to do so.
Many years ago, in the early days of the Colonies, and even in England, the lighting in the Lodge was extremely poor. Candlelight was the best that the lodge could offer. To see into the ballot box was almost impossible for the elder members and even the younger men had a hard time trying to distinguish between a black ball and a very dirty white one. A member drawing forth a ball from the box to get a closer look at the color disclosed many a ballot. In desperation, measures had to be taken, so it was decided to cut square cubes and paint them black.
Until next month, take care, God Bless and be safe!!!
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Trenton Cyrus #5 WM