Voting, Right Of
Formerly, all members of the Craft, even Entered Apprentices, were permitted to vote. This was distinctly prescribed in the last of the Thirty-nine General Regulations adopted in 1721 (Constitutions, 1723, page 70). But the numerical strength of the Order, which was then in the First Degree, having now passed over to the Third, the modern rule in the United States of America, but not in England, is that the right of voting shall be restricted to Master Masons. A Master Mason may, therefore, speak and vote on all questions, except in trials where he is himself concerned as accuser or defendant.
Yet by special regulation of his Lodge he may be prevented from voting on ordinary questions where his dues for a certain period--generally twelve months-- have not been paid; and such a regulation exists in almost every Lodge. But no local by-law can deprive a member, who has not been suspended, from voting on the ballot for the admission of Candidates, because the sixth regulation of 1721 distinctly requires that each member present on such occasion shall give his consent before the candidate can be admitted (see the above edition of the Constitutions, page 59).
And if a member were deprived by any by-law of the Lodge in consequence of non-payment of his dues, of the right of expressing his Consent or dissent, the ancient regulation would be violated, and a candidate might be admitted without the unanimous Consent of all the members present. And this rule is so rigidly enforced, that on a ballot for initiation no member Can he excused from voting. He must assume the responsibility of casting his vote, lest it should afterward be said that the candidate was not admitted by unanimous consent.
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