Due to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, the Grand Master has ordered the use of an electronic ballot for electing Grand Lodge Officers and voting on Grand Lodge reports as found in the annual preprinted reports.
As Grand Lodge prepares for Annual Communication in June we need your assistance to identify any Past Masters and those from your Lodge who are eligible to vote at our session. Request you send their names and email addresses to the Grand Secretary so he can generate a unique ID number for each to make the electronic voting work. In able to participate everyone must ensure their email is accurate in MORI or send an update to the Grand Secretary.
It is incumbent on the Lodge Secretaries to ensure we have all Past Masters identified so they can vote during our Electronic Session for Annual Communication on June 19, 2020.
James J. Burma, Jr.
ELECTRONIC VOTING REQUIREMENTS
This directive provides guidance for use of electronic ballots on 19 June 2020 by eligible voting members of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota.
The intent of this electronic balloting is to allow for conducting only the most essential annual business of the Grand Lodge. An in-person Communication, previously determined to be held 19-20 June 2020, is not possible by federal, state, and local guidelines and restrictions. The barrier is the current COVID-19 national emergency, which by order of the President, CDC and the Grand Master's Edict Regarding CORONAVIRUS baring the gathering of persons in any sized group.
I have approved an electronic ballot, created by an independent source, to do the most essential annual business. It contains only two items for voting members to consider: (1) Election of Grand Lodge Officers, Trustee, and Jurisprudence for 2021, and (2) the approval of the Grand Lodge reports and budget proposal contained in the 2020 Annual Communication Preprint. Historically, these items have neither been controversial nor deeply contested. No issue that may have been considered controversial would have been placed on the ballot. With concurrence from the Jurisprudence Committee, all Legislation will be pushed to the next regular Annual Communication. All that wish to vote in this year's Annual Communication need to ensure the Grand Secretary has your email or it is accurate in MORI.
Each of our qualified voters will receive a unique number from the Grand Secretary. The voter will use that number to electronically sign in and receive access to his ballot and vote. Once the period for voting is complete, the Tellers Committee will collect the data, just as they would paper ballots, and report the results. The Grand Secretary is not a member of the Tellers Committee and will not have access to the ballots. The Tellers will not have access to the Grand Secretary's list of names and their unique identifying numbers. These efforts are to ensure a secret ballot, to the best of our ability.
I would like to pause just a moment to discuss secret ballots. Masons are men of honor. We take obligations to act that way, and hold each other accountable. Critics of this electronic balloting plan might balk at the notion that complete secrecy and privacy can be maintained in a digital environment. I reply to them with the following: I am requesting that the voting members of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota keep their ballots secret and hold them harmless from corruption. To not do so would subject a voter to Masonic discipline. With a nod to our Master Mason's obligation, we've now as secret and private a ballot as men on this earth can hope to have.
A link to the online ballot will be sent by email to each qualified voter, with his unique number. Follow-up will be made to their Lodges by our District Masters both reviewing the process and answering questions. Voters without access to the internet may proxy their vote to a Past Master of their Lodge or the Master of the Lodge may enter two or three votes, circumstances depending. In either case, this is just as would happen if a voting member was unable to attend the Annual Communication in person.
The Electronic Session of Annual Communication will open at 10:00AM MDT on Friday, 19 June 2020 followed by a roll call of Lodges, Announcements of Lodge of the Year, Master Builder of the Year, Lodge Education Officer and any special awards. References to Preprinted Reports on what are available on line and the procedures used to vote will be discussed. Balloting will open at 10:30 AM and remain open until 12:00PM. This is in keeping with our Grand Lodge Annual Communication per the Code except for election of Grand Lodge Officers will be accomplished as time allows through on line access. The Tellers Committee will meet at 12:00 PM to begin their canvass of votes. The chair will make his report and the Grand Master will announce the winners. Obligation and installation of the newly elected Grand Lodge officers will follow immediately thereafter.
I close with a point of emphasis. An electronic ballot is not how a single one of us wants to accomplish the work of our Annual Communication. My hope, though, is with this balloting, we can get as close as we can in this COVID-restricted environment to our usual form of work. When we've finished, we can look to a happy future period when we can gather together again to celebrate both our Brotherhood and our precious South Dakota Freemasonry.
To the Masons of South Dakota, I close with best wishes for your good health and for the health of your families. Continue to support one another as you always do, and I say again what a blessing it is to be counted among your number.
Fraternally and Sincerely,
Harold D. Ireland
Grand Master of Masons