The pertinent Rules from the Book of Constitution and By-laws are as follows:
290. All petitions for degrees shall be made in writing, and signed by the applicant with his full name. He shall affirm his belief in the existence of God and shall state the following facts: The date and place of his birth; his occupation specifically; the name of his employer, if he has any, and the nature and location of the business of such employer; if his employment is stated as clerk, salesman, manager, solicitor, adjuster, or any other indefinite term, the petition shall also state the particular kind of business or employment in which he is such clerk, salesman, manager, solicitor, adjuster, etc.; his place of residence, and, if the petitioner resides in a city having streets that are named and houses that are numbered, he shall state the name of his street and the number of his house. He shall also state whether he has previously made application to be made a Mason to any Lodge. In cases where the petitioner has before petitioned to be made a Mason, he shall state the name, number, location and jurisdiction of the Lodge previously petitioned, the date as near as may be of such former petition and the disposition of such petition. The hand-written portions of each such petition shall be in the handwriting of the petitioner. The petition shall be accompanied by the fee which the by-laws of the Lodge requires.
291. Every petitioner shall be recommended in writing by three members of any Lodge that is under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, one of whom must be a member of the petitioned Lodge and all of whom must have personal acquaintance with the petitioner. Each petition must be read at a stated meeting and the petitioner’s name, age, residence, occupation, employer, the person(s) who recommended him, and to whom the petition was referred be entered upon the records.
392. After a petition has been read it may be received by the voice of the Lodge either tacitly or formally given, or the Lodge, by a majority vote, may refuse to receive it.
293. Every petition for degrees or membership, after it is received, shall be referred to an investigating committee of three members of the Lodge, other than those signing the petition, whose names shall be announced in open Lodge at the meeting when the petition is received. Every petition for degrees received by a Lodge but not balloted on within one year from the date of being received, shall become null and void and the fees shall be returned to the petitioner.
294. Each member of an investigation committee shall see the applicant personally and diligently inquire into his moral, mental, physical and other qualifications and ascertain whether he has resided within the jurisdiction of the state, as required by Codes 279 and 282, and make full report thereon to the Master.
295. Each member of an investigating committee shall make private, verbal report to the Master, but the nature thereof, whether favorable or unfavorable, shall not be entered on the record.
297. Reports from fewer than all of the members of the committee appointed to investigate the character and qualifications of a petitioner shall not be sufficient. All must report before a legal ballot can be had, the Lodge being entitled to the information derived from three sources of inquiry.
298. The Master may grant a committee appointed on a petition for degrees or membership more time, and in case any member of an investigating committee fails to report, the Master may remove him and in open Lodge, appoint another brother in his place, but the ballot shall not be taken before the next stated meeting.
299. Previous to the balloting the Master must read so much of the petition as gives the candidate’s name, age, occupation, and residence, together with the names of the brethren who recommended him, and those who served on the investigating committee, and announce to the Lodge the nature of the investigating committee’s report, and to what extent they were agreed.
325. No ballot shall be taken on a petition for any degree or for membership at any other than a stated meeting nor in less than two weeks from the time the petition was received and referred except by dispensation from the Grand Master, nor unless there be present at such stated meeting and voting on such petition at least five members of the Lodge
326. One clear ballot entitles the petitioner to the three degrees, but if an elected candidate, an Entered Apprentice or a Fellowcraft transfers his allegiance to another Lodge, his petition for the remaining degree or degrees must again pass the ordeal of the ballot.
327. In balloting upon petitions for degrees or for membership, the same shall be acted upon separately and every member of the Lodge present shall vote, unless excused therefrom at his own request and by unanimous consent of the other members present, separately given as to each member so excused. The Tyler, if a member of the Lodge, may be excused by the Master.
328. The order of balloting does not necessarily follow the sequence in which the petitions were received.
329. The ballot shall be had upon every petition for degrees, whether the report thereon is favorable or unfavorable, unless such ballot be excused by the Grand Master or it shall appear that the Lodge cannot legally act thereon; in case of such failure to ballot, the fee shall be returned to the petitioner.
330. The vote to elect on petitions for degrees or for membership must be unanimous. But, if the petition for membership is made to the Lodge of which the petitioner was last a member and from which he was regularly dimitted or had withdrew as a plural member, the vote to elect on such petition for membership shall be a favorable vote of two-
331. The right of every member of a Lodge to vote by secret ballot on petitions for degrees or for membership is inherent and absolute, and the lawful and legitimate exercise of such right shall not be questioned by the Master, the Lodge, the Grand Master, or the Grand Lodge.
332. If any member shall be proved to have been actuated by unworthy motives in the exercise of his right as a voter, or shall willfully use the ballot to interrupt the legitimate labors, or mar the peace and harmony of the Lodge, or shall expose the character of his own vote before, at the time of, or after casting it, or shall attempt to ascertain the character of the vote of any other member, he shall be liable to Masonic discipline and punishment.
334. When a ballot is in progress it shall not be suspended or postponed, nor shall it be interrupted by the admission or withdrawal of any brother, but brethren should be permitted to enter or retire between ballots on different candidates.
335. 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.
336. After the ballot has been taken and duly examined, first by the Wardens and then by the master, the Master shall immediately announce the result thereof; provided, however, if but one negative vote appears, the Master may immediately order a second ballot or announce that a second ballot will be taken at the next stated meeting. After the second ballot has been taken the Master shall immediately announce the results thereof. If all provisions of the law have been complied with, the announcement by the Master of the result of the ballot shall be final and conclusive and shall not be reconsidered nor set aside by the Master or the Lodge.
337. At the conclusion of a ballot the result only, either “elected” or “rejected,” shall be made known and recorded. 338. Every Lodge shall have a ballot box so constructed as to enable every member to cast his vote secretly and shall be equipped with a sufficient number of white balls and black cubes to enable every brother to express his preference freely.
The Handbook for Officer Advancement has two suggested methods of conducting the balloting, but clearly, states, "There is no prescribed method of balloting. The Master has complete charge." Chicago Lodge tends to follow a custom which is slightly different than one of these two methods.