Who had the right to vote in ancient Rome? Were all votes equal?

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Jessica Pope | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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In the city of Rome, all citizens were able to vote on the issues of the day in a referrendum-type process, as well as for elected officials. Citizens would gather in a large assembly, hear arguments from passionate orators, and cast lots or raise their hands to indicate their ballot. However, only a small percentage of the inhabitants of Rome were citizens. Only wealthy, aristocratic males of certain familes enjoyed citizenship. Women, servants, the poor and many other social outcasts were denied citizenship and thus could not vote on issue affecting their daily lives. As the city of Rome spread into an empire, the mark of citizenship became even more scare. Inhabitants of occupied lands did not enjoy the privileges of citizenship, even though there were subject to Roman law and even taxation.

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