Every election was a combination of vote and lottery. The Athenians fiddled with the voting system constantly. They'd only just invented democracy after all, and they weren't afraid to experiment to see what worked best. But the system always had the same basic elements. It went something like this:
- Each of the ten tribes took it in turn to supply candidates. (So that each tribe supplied officials once every ten years.)
- The tribe whose turn it was selected candidates for all the elected positions. The candidates were selected by lottery from across the tribe.
- All the citizens of Athens then voted from among the randomly-selected candidates for who they thought would do the best job.
Note the lottery system. It guaranteed that, unlike modern systems, everyone had an equal chance of one day holding office, and that serial power-seekers hadn't a hope.
If you'd asked an ancient Athenian, they would have told you, in all seriousness, that the lottery system was an essential part of any democracy, and that any state that didn't have a luck element wasn't a true democracy. Plato's quite famous for saying that anyone who wants power, shouldn't have it. But that was actually the default Athenian view.