"Most fascinating" (to use his words) to me so far has been the chapter entitled "Delivering the Vote". The bustle of Rome's politics has never felt so alive to me as in these descriptions—two paragraphs of which especially pleased me for their clarity and focus:
The striking thing about the city population as we know it is the lack of a middle class. The sons of freedmen and the countrymen who had not lost everything may have provided a small group of men of moderate means, but in general Rome was inhabited by the rich and the poor, with very few men in the middle group. Yet, as we shall see, it was the vote of the middle income group which counted particularly in the elections of consuls and praetors. Such men had to come mainly from outside the city, and since in our period the immediate vicinity of Rome, which once supplied the voters, was now almost denuded of freeborn men, most of them had to come a considerable distance. A representative system might have been the solution, but no one seems to have proposed that, though such a system existed in Macedonia. Augustus later devised a plan for absentee ballots, but by that time votes had ceased to have any real validity. In our period voters had to go to Rome and they made the journey not as representatives of their communities but on their own initiative or because someone arranged to bring them.
The consular and praetorian elections, for which considerable numbers of men in the first class must have come to Rome from all Italy south of the Po, were normally scheduled in the latter part of July immediately following the games for Apollo, an attraction that doubtless aided in getting out the voters. The curule aediles, the quaestors, and the military tribunes were elected by the tribal assembly, usually just after the praetors had been chosen; and the officers of the plebs, the plebeian aediles and the tribunes, were ordinarily chosen in the same period. The crowd that had assembled for the consular and the praetorian elections was likely to be in the city still for these minor elections, but in the more democratic assembly, where the richer men counted less, the outcome was much less predictable. Cicero points this out in his defense of Plancius, who was prosecuted after his successful contest for the curule aedileship. Cicero’s own election to the aedileship had proved this, for he won the office in spite of the machinations of Verres, who had been able with his bribes to control the consular and the praetorian elections.
The commendation of nobles was probably painted on signs along the roads leading to Rome and all over the city and the municipal towns. On tombs along the roadside there are inscribed warnings to candidates not to use the monument for sign posting. And all over the town of Pompeii are painted notices of candidates still canvassing for local offices when elections in Rome had either been discontinued or were little more than a sham. The form of recommendation accords with the personal character of the endorsement as we know it in republican politics. Many of them are painted on the walls of houses or shops and give the recommendation of the owner. He asks for votes (rogare, orare) and recommends his candidate in rather vague terms as a good man or one worthy of the republic, terms so conventional that they could be abbreviated. A little variation is supplied by the statements “this man will preserve the treasury,” or “ make so and so aedile and he will make you one.” [...] The inscriptions of Pompeii also include endorsement from groups such as teamsters, muleteers, hucksters of every type, dyers, barbers, and also from certain districts of the town.