The OJCL Torch Fall 2020 | Page 25


Who ran for office?

Throughout most of the Roman Republic, public offices were dominated by the wealthy elite, often members of the same families. This was in part due to the money spent on campaigning and the familiarity of wealthy families. Candidates were also required to have served 10 years in the military. Originally, the Centuriate Assembly elected the higher ranking officials, and the Centuriate Assembly members were wealthy Patricians. Since the wealthy elected higher offices, wealthy candidates typically ran for office.

How did candidates campaign?

Some candidates attracted voters by offering food and drinks in bowls inscribed with their name. (This is similar to the OJCL campaign method of giving candy with your name on it to JCLers before the election.) The most common form of campaigning was canvassing in the Roman Forum, through shaking hands, giving speeches, and often giving gifts as an enticement for people to vote in their favor. Candidates wore a bright white toga called the Toga Candida, the root of the English word “candidate.”

Secret ballots: In 139 B.C.E., the Lex Gabinia Tabellaria introduced the concept of a secret ballot, which was developed through three other laws in the following years. With this process, voters wrote the initials of the candidate they chose on a small wax tablet and placed it in the cista (box). To ensure as fair of an election as possible, there were guards watching each box. This system made elections far more accessible to common people and relieved the pressure to vote for certain candidates.

Former OJCL president Ryan Burns gets sworn in by Grant Bruner