"government formed by election by ballot," by 1966, from Greek psēphizein "to vote" (properly "to vote with pebbles"), from psēphos "pebble, small stone," especially as used for counting and calculating (a word of uncertain origin, perhaps related to psammos "sand"), + -cracy "rule or government by."
The common method of voting in Greek cities was by dropping pebbles in different marked urns, and thus the word for "pebble" figures largely in the ancient Greek vocabulary of democracy (e.g. isopsēphos "having an equal vote"). Also a psēphados was "a juggler." Related: Psephocrat; psephocratic.
late 14c., "intercessory prayers or pleas on behalf of another," from Old French sofrage "plea, intercession" (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin suffragium, from Latin suffragium "support, ballot, vote; right of voting; a voting tablet," from suffragari "lend support, vote for someone," conjectured to be a compound of sub "under" (see sub-) + fragor "crash, din, shouts (as of approval)," related to frangere "to break" (from PIE root *bhreg- "to break"). On another theory (Watkins, etc.) the second element is frangere itself and the notion is "use a broken piece of tile as a ballot" (compare ostracism).
The meaning "a vote for or against anything" is from 1530s. The meaning "political right to vote" in English is first found in the U.S. Constitution, 1787.
1736, "to dose on pills," from pill (n.). From 1882 as "to form into pills." In club slang, "to reject by vote, blackball" (1855). Related: Pilled; pilling.