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Freedom to Speak.

Exclusion from the Assembly.

Payment for Participation.

Meeting Places.

Schedule of Meetings.

The Conduct of Meetings.

Checks and Balances.

→ Voting.

Decrees and Laws.

Election of Officials.

Foreign Policy: Sending Embassies.

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Conferring Rewards.

Complaints about Religious Matters.

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The Dangers of Bad Government.

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The Assembly 

Christopher W. Blackwell, edition of March 26, 2003

page 10 of 23

· Voting ·

Most voting in the Assembly was by a show of hands (χειροτονία), although some votes were conducted by secret ballot (ψῆφος).

Read about the evidence
Aristotle (Aristot. Ath. Pol.).
Demosthenes (Dem. 24).
Xenophon (Xen. Hell.).
Apollodorus (Dem. 59).

Aristotle says that payment for attendance was instituted specifically to “get people to come to vote by show of hands” (Aristot. Ath. Pol. 41.3). Even the most serious of matters were often decided by show of hands, such as the impeachment and condemnation of generals (Aristot. Ath. Pol. 34.1) and the approval of formal laws (νόμοι) (Dem. 24.20) (laws were more significant than decrees; see below and on Legislation). This method of voting limited the business of the Assembly to daylight hours, as this anecdote from Xenophon shows: “it was decided, however, that the matter should be postponed to another meeting of the Assembly (for by that time it was late in the day and they could not have distinguished the hands in the voting).” (ἔδοξε δὲ ἀναβαλέσθαι εἰς ἑτέραν ἐκκλησίαν, τότε γὰρ ὀψὲ ἦν καὶ τὰς χεῖρας οὐκ ἂν καθεώρων) (Xen. Hell. 1.7.7). Under certain circumstances, the Assembly would vote by “ballot”, literally “pebble” (ψῆφος); this was organized by Tribes (φυλαί), with two urns, serving as ballot-boxes, for each Tribe (Xen. Hell. 1.7.9). Voting by ballot was limited to issues which had to be decided by a quorum of 6000 citizens (Dem. 59.89 - Dem. 59.90).

Read about the evidence
Aeschines (Aeschin. 3).
Aeschines (Aeschin. 2).
Demosthenes (Dem. 19).

Once the Assembly had approved something, the decree, its date, and the names of the officials who put the matter to the vote, were recorded and preserved as a public record of the proceedings of government (Aeschin. 2.89; Aeschin. 2.58; Aeschin. 3.75). Thus Aeschines could refer to a decree (ψήφισμα) “as originally written” (ὡς ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἐγράφη) (Aeschin. 2.66). When Aeschines officially declined to serve as an ambassador when selected by the Assembly, his affidavit refusing that office was preserved with the original decree in the Metroon, the Temple of Demeter (Dem. 19.129).

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