How Was Voting Done in Ancient Greece?

Voting in Ancient Greece was a fundamental aspect of their democratic system. It played a crucial role in shaping the political landscape and decision-making process. To understand how voting was done in Ancient Greece, let’s delve into the details.

The Assembly

The Athenian Assembly, also known as the Ekklesia, was the primary body responsible for making decisions through voting. All eligible citizens were allowed to participate in this democratic process.


Only male citizens: In Ancient Greece, only adult male citizens were considered eligible to vote. Women, slaves, and foreigners were excluded from this right.

Athenian citizenship: To be eligible for voting, one had to be an Athenian citizen by birth or through naturalization.

The Process

Frequency: The Assembly met around 40 times per year on a hill called the Pnyx.

Agenda: Any citizen could propose a law or a decree that needed approval from the Assembly. The agenda was set by the presiding officials called Prytaneis.

The Voting Procedure

Voting in Ancient Greece followed a simple yet effective procedure:

  1. Citizens gathered at the Pnyx with their pebble tokens called ostraka. These ostraka were used to cast votes.
  2. A proposal was presented by its proponent and open to debate among the citizens present.
  3. Voting commenced after thorough discussions and deliberations.
  4. Citizens cast their votes by dropping their ostraka into designated containers called kleroteria.
  5. The counting process began immediately, overseen by the presiding officials.
  6. If the proposal received a majority of votes in favor, it was accepted and implemented. Otherwise, it was rejected.

Significance of Voting in Ancient Greece

Voting held immense importance in Ancient Greece as it allowed citizens to actively participate in the decision-making process. It fostered a sense of civic duty and ensured that power was distributed among the people rather than concentrated in the hands of a few.

The Birth of Democracy: The voting system in Ancient Greece laid the foundation for modern democracy by establishing citizen participation as an integral part of governance.

Engagement and Debate: The open discussions during Assembly sessions encouraged citizens to voice their opinions, exchange ideas, and engage in political discourse.

Accountability: Voting served as a mechanism to hold public officials accountable for their actions. If they failed to meet the expectations of the citizens, they could be voted out or face consequences.

In Conclusion

Voting in Ancient Greece formed the cornerstone of their democratic system. It provided citizens with an opportunity to actively participate in decision-making and shaped the course of their society. By understanding how voting was done in Ancient Greece, we gain insights into the origins and principles that underpin modern democracies today.