As I think about what is likely to happen in the U.S. elections, with results contested only in a few states and commentators calling the elections before the polling places in western states have closed (okay, maybe they’ve been chastised enough and won’t do it, but I’m not counting on it), I am reminded of the Roman system of voting. There, in essence, the first candidate to win a set number won. Further votes were irrelevant. This disenfranchised those far from the Eternal City or too poor to make it there for the elections. Special interest groups and campaign contributions are as acceptable today as patronage was in ancient Rome, although either might appear as buying votes or bribery.
I tried to find my old articles from About.com on the topic, but most of the relevant pages redirect to the single one they kept: How the Romans Voted in the Roman Republic, so I will again refer you to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, this time from April 2104.
- Technical Terms Connected With Roman Elections
- Irregularities in the Roman Elections
- Election Postponement
- Weighted Votes
Image credit: Plan of the Saepta Julia (Giovanni Battista Piranesi, 1756). Source: Wikipedia ( Le antichità Romane. Tomo IV, tav. XLVII. // Opere di Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Francesco Piranesi e d’altri. Firmin Didot Freres, Paris, 1835-1839. Tomo 4)