Ballot, Unanimity of The
Unanimity in the choice of candidates is considered so essential to the welfare of the Fraternity, that the Old Regulations have expressly provided for its preservation in the following words: "But no man can be entered a Brother in any particular Lodge, or admitted to be a member thereof, without the unanimous consent of all the members of that Lodge then present when the candidate is proposed, and their consent is formally asked by the Master; and they are to signify their consent or dissent in their own prudent way, either virtually or in form, but with unanimity; nor is this inherent privilege subject to a dispensation; because the members of a particular Lodge are the best judges of it; and if a fractious member should be imposed on them, it might spoil their harmony, or hinder their freedom; or even break and disperse the Lodge, which ought to be avoided by all good and true brethren" (see the Constitutions, 1723 edition, page 59).
However, the rule of unanimity here referred to is applicable only to the United States of America, in all of whose Grand Lodges it has been strictly enforced.
Anderson tells us, in the second edition of the Constitutions, under the head of New Regulations (page 155), that." It was found inconvenient to insist upon unanimity in several cases; and, therefore, the Grand Masters have allowed the Lodges to admit a member if not above three ballots are against him; though some Lodges desire no such allowance." Accordingly, the Constitution (Rule 190) of the Grand Lodge of England, says:
"No person can be made a Mason in or admitted a member of a Lodge, if, on the ballot, three black balls appear against him ; but the by-laws of a Lodge may enact that one or two black balls shall exclude a candidate; and by-laws may also enact that a prescribed period shall elapse before any rejected candidate can be again proposed in that Lodge."
The Grand Lodge of Ireland (By-law 127) prescribes unanimity, unless there is a by-law of the subordinate Lodge to the contrary.
The Constitution of Scotland provides (by Rule 181) that "Three black balls shall exclude a candidate.
Lodges in the Colonies and in foreign parts may enact that two black balls shall exclude." In the continental Lodges, the modern English regulation prevails. It is only in the Lodges of the United States that the ancient rule of unanimity is strictly enforced.
Unanimity in the ballot is necessary to secure the harmony of the Lodge, which may be as seriously impaired by the admission of a candidate contrary to the wishes of one member as of three or more ; for every man has his friends and his influence. Besides, it is unjust to any member, however humble he may be, to introduce among his associates one whose presence might be unpleasant to him, and whose admission would probably compel him to withdraw from the meetings, or even altogether from the Lodge. Neither would any advantage really accrue to a Lodge by such a forced admission ; for while receiving a new and untried member into its fold, it would be losing an old one. For these reasons, in the United States, in every one of its jurisdictions, the unanimity of the ballot is expressly insisted on; and it is evident, from what has been here said, that any less stringent regulation is a violation of the ancient law and usage.
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