How People Voted in Ancient Elections

Citizens of modern democracies have used a variety of methods and technologies to cast their votes on election day, but how did people participate in elections in ancient times? Historians have pieced together some intriguing details from Athens, the first and only direct democracy, and the Roman Republic, a quasi-democracy where the wealthiest classes wielded more influence than the workers.

In both Athens and Rome, participation in the democratic process (The Greek word dēmokratia means “people power”) was limited to the dēmos, which were free, male citizens. Women and enslaved people did not have a vote.

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