In Cyprian's time at Carthage the laity in north African cities had a substantial voice in the election of a bishop. In the fourth century there appears a tendency for the vocabulary to be assimilated to that of electing a magistrate, which was also a privilege or right of the plebs or populus. They exercised a 'suffrage', choosing a candidate who had offered to stand and who conducted a campaign for success, perhaps against competition from a rival. The result easily produced faction such as Ambrose coped with at Vercelli, where he had to admonish the people that as consecrator he had the ultimate responsibility. The bishops of the province, especially the metropolitan, had the delicate task of mediating between the parties, and tactfully indicating which candidate they would be willing to consecrate. Decisions were formally recorded in 'ecclesiastical acts' with the acclamations and record of the numbers. Unanimity was always reckoned a sign of a divinely authorized choice; it was not always easily achieved, though at Milan Ambrose received it and the laity could put pressure on their chosen candidate, e.g. by blocking any attempt to leave the town. In 371 the pressure from the laity was enough to force the consecration of Martin of Tours on unwilling bishops who thought him unsuitable (and in the outcome were proved wrong). Martin himself believed he had suffered a loss of charism when the hands of the bishops, in his eyes a worldly lot, were laid upon his head. In 426 Augustine of Hippo wrote (ep. 213. 1): 'I know that at the death of bishops the peace of the churches is often disturbed by rivalries and ambitions.' The laity were increasingly coming to expect their bishop to have the social influence to protect them when they were in trouble with taxmen or magistrates or when they needed a favourable reference for a job, and this capacity counted more than holiness. The office of a bishop was inevitably politicized.