Terms Glossary

Good Party's Terms Glossary is a list of definitions of words from the political and elections world. These terms are from an independent's perspective with an eye toward reform. If you have a suggestion for a new definition, send it to ask@goodparty.org.

Petition Signature gathering

Petition signature gathering is the process of collecting signatures from registered voters in order to qualify a candidate or initiative for the ballot. This process is often used by third-party candidates or groups to get their names on the ballot without having to go through the traditional party primary process. It's also used to qualify ballot initiatives, like a state constitutional amendment or a referendum, for a vote of the people.

In the United States, petition signature gathering requirements vary from state to state. Some states require a certain number of signatures, while others have different requirements based on the office or initiative being sought. For example, California requires 6% of the total number of voters from the last election for a candidate to qualify for the ballot, while in Arizona, the requirement is 4% of the total number of registered voters.

The process of petition signature gathering can be both time-consuming and costly. Third-party candidates and groups often have to pay for professional signature gatherers, which can add up quickly. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the average cost of gathering enough signatures to qualify for the ballot is around $1 per signature. This means that it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to qualify for the ballot in some states.

Despite the challenges, petition signature gathering is an important tool for ensuring a more representative democracy. It gives voters more choice, and allows candidates and groups who may not have the support of the major parties to still have a chance to be on the ballot. It also gives voters more direct control over the political process, as they are able to vote on initiatives that would not have otherwise qualified for the ballot.

In summary, petition signature gathering is the process of collecting signatures from registered voters in order to qualify a candidate or initiative for the ballot. It's used by third-party candidates or groups to get their names on the ballot without having to go through the traditional party primary process. It's also used to qualify ballot initiatives, like a state constitutional amendment or a referendum, for a vote of the people. It's an important tool for ensuring a more representative democracy, giving voters more choice and direct control over the political process.

Proportional Representation

Proportional representation is a voting system in which the number of seats a political party or group holds in an elected body is roughly proportional to the number of votes they receive. This means that if a party receives 30% of the votes, they will hold roughly 30% of the seats in the elected body. This contrasts with systems such as plurality voting, where the candidate or party with the most votes wins, regardless of whether they have a majority.

Proportional representation is often seen as a way to ensure that all voices are heard and that all voters have a say in the election. This is because it allows for smaller parties and groups to gain representation in an elected body, even if they do not have a majority of the votes. This can lead to a more diverse and representative government.

Examples of proportional representation can be found in countries such as Germany, Italy and Israel. In Germany, for example, the Bundestag (the German parliament) is elected using a mixed system of proportional representation and first-past-the-post. This means that voters cast two votes: one for a candidate in their local constituency and one for a party list. This ensures that small parties and groups are represented in the Bundestag.

In the United States, however, proportional representation is not widely used. The main reason is that the electoral system is based on the winner-takes-all principle, where the candidate with the most votes wins, regardless of whether they have a majority. This system tends to favor the two major parties, making it difficult for smaller parties and independent candidates to gain representation.