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.

Early Voting

Definition and meaning of early voting: Early voting refers to the practice of allowing voters to cast their ballots before election day. This can be done in person at designated polling places or through absentee voting, which allows voters to request a ballot by mail or online.

Early voting is often seen as a way to increase voter participation and make the electoral process more convenient and accessible. It can be especially beneficial for voters who may have difficulty getting to the polls on election day, such as those who are elderly, disabled, or have demanding work schedules.

However, early voting can also have its drawbacks. For example, some critics argue that it can lead to increased voter fraud or confusion, as there is less time for election officials to verify and process the ballots. Others worry that it could favor certain candidates or parties, depending on how the early voting period is structured.

Despite these concerns, early voting is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 37 states and the District of Columbia now offer some form of early voting, and many more are considering it.

For independent and third-party candidates, early voting can be a helpful tool for increasing voter turnout. By making it easier for people to cast their ballots, we can create a more representative and inclusive democracy that works for everyone.


Definition and meaning of eco-socialism: Eco-socialism is an ideology that seeks to combine environmental sustainability with economic and social justice. It is a reform-minded movement that challenges the current status quo of two-party politics and corporate-controlled economic systems. Eco-socialism seeks to create a society that is both ecologically and economically just, one in which the environment and marginalized communities are prioritized. It is an interdisciplinary approach that combines elements of both capitalism and socialism, focusing on the interconnectedness of all systems, and understanding that economic and ecological sustainability are mutually dependent. Eco-socialists advocate for radical changes to the current economic and political system, including the decentralization of power, an end to the domination of corporate interests, and the promotion of independent candidates and parties. Examples of eco-socialist policies include the implementation of a Green New Deal, a guaranteed basic income, and universal healthcare.


Definition and meaning of egalitarianism: Egalitarianism is the belief in equal political, economic, and social rights for all citizens regardless of race, gender, religion, or other factors. Egalitarianism holds that everyone should have an equal opportunity to contribute to society and enjoy the benefits of its progress. Egalitarianism is rooted in the concept of human equality, which seeks to ensure that all citizens have equal access to basic rights and resources. This means that access to education, healthcare, and other important services should not be limited by income or other factors. Additionally, egalitarianism seeks to promote diversity of thought and opinion in politics and encourages citizens to take an active role in their own government. Egalitarianism is a difficult ideal to achieve, but its principles have been embraced by many political movements throughout history. With a commitment to equal rights and equal representation, egalitarianism promises a more fair and just society.

Election Assistance Commission (EAC)

Definition and meaning of Election Assistance Commission (EAC): The Election Assistance Commission is an independent, bipartisan commission established in 2002 to assist state and local governments with the administration of federal elections. Its mission is to promote and improve fair and uniform standards for election administration and to ensure that citizens have access to accurate and secure voting systems. The EAC also provides technical and legal assistance to state and local governments and assists states in meeting their obligations under the Help America Vote Act. The EAC is an important part of the electoral process, as it works to ensure that all citizens have access to fair and uniform standards for voting. The EAC provides grants and other assistance to state and local governments to help improve the administration of elections.

Election Board

Definition and meaning of election board: An election board is a government body responsible for overseeing the administration of elections. This includes tasks such as registering voters, maintaining voter rolls, and ensuring that voting machines and other equipment are properly calibrated and functioning. The board also plays a role in enforcing election laws and regulations, such as those governing campaign finance and voter eligibility. In some jurisdictions, the election board is also responsible for certifying the results of elections and issuing official tallies.

Some states and municipalities have independent or third-party members on their election boards to ensure impartiality and fairness in the election process. For example, Iowa has a bi-partisan election board, composed of two Republicans and two Democrats, that oversees the state's elections. Similarly, the city of New York has a Board of Elections that is composed of ten members, with five members from each of the two major political parties.

However, not all states and municipalities have independent or third-party members on their election boards. In some cases, this is because the board is appointed or selected by the governor or other elected officials, which can lead to a lack of diversity in perspectives and potential political bias. In other cases, the board may be composed entirely of members of one political party, which can also raise concerns about impartiality.

In any case, it is important for election boards to be impartial and unbiased in order to ensure free and fair elections. This includes not only the members on the boards but also the election process and the counting of the votes.

In summary, an election board is a government body responsible for overseeing the administration of elections, enforcing election laws and regulations, and certifying the results of elections. Some states and municipalities have independent or third-party members on their boards to ensure impartiality and fairness in the election process, while other places do not. It is important for election boards to be impartial and unbiased to ensure the integrity of the election process.

Election Clerk

Definition and meaning of election clerk: An election clerk is a person who is responsible for overseeing and conducting the administrative aspects of an election. This can include tasks such as registering voters, verifying voter eligibility, maintaining voter rolls, and counting votes. Election clerks are typically appointed or hired by a local or state government, and may work under the supervision of an election commission or board.

In some states and municipalities, election clerks are trained and certified by the state to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct elections fairly and accurately. For example, in Ohio, election clerks must complete a training program and pass a certification exam before being allowed to work on elections. Additionally, some states and municipalities have implemented measures such as background checks and security protocols to ensure that election clerks are qualified and trustworthy.

However, not all states and municipalities have such measures in place. In some places, the process of appointing or hiring election clerks may be less rigorous, and may not include training or certification requirements. Furthermore, some states and municipalities may have laws and regulations in place that limit the responsibilities and qualifications of election clerks, leading to an inadequate election process.

It is essential to ensure that election clerks are qualified, trained and trustworthy, as they play a crucial role in the integrity of the election process. A well-trained and qualified election clerk, can ensure that the voting process is accurate, fair, and secure, and also, it can prevent the manipulation of the vote and ensure the representation of independent and third-party candidates for office. Furthermore, the use of background checks and security protocols can increase the transparency and accountability of the election process, and prevent any misconduct or fraud during the election.

Election Fraud

Definition and meaning of election fraud: Election fraud encompasses a range of illegal activities designed to alter the outcome of an election, thereby subverting the will of the people. These acts not only distort the results of a specific election but also erode public trust in the democratic process, leading to long-term repercussions for governance and societal stability.

At its core, election fraud involves tampering with the electoral process to favor a particular candidate or political party. This tampering can take various forms. One of the most common is vote manipulation, which includes ballot stuffing (adding illegitimate votes to the count), destroying or altering ballots, and miscounting or misreporting vote totals. Another prevalent form of election fraud is voter suppression, which involves preventing eligible voters from casting their ballots through intimidation, misinformation, creating barriers to voting (like stringent ID requirements or limited polling locations), and purging voter rolls.

Election fraud can also manifest in subtler ways. This includes the dissemination of false information to influence voter perceptions, hacking into electoral systems to alter voter data or vote counts, and collusion with foreign entities to interfere in the election process. Campaign finance violations, such as accepting illegal contributions or exceeding spending limits, also fall under the umbrella of election fraud as they create an uneven playing field in elections.

The implications of election fraud are far-reaching. In the short term, it can lead to the illegitimate election of candidates who do not represent the true choice of the people. This outcome not only undermines the legitimacy of the elected officials but also leads to policies and decisions that may not reflect the public's best interests. In the longer term, persistent election fraud can lead to a decline in voter turnout, as citizens lose faith in the electoral process.

Combating election fraud requires a multi-faceted approach. Strengthening the legal and institutional framework governing elections is paramount. This involves enacting stringent laws against election fraud, ensuring the independence and integrity of electoral bodies, and implementing robust mechanisms for the transparent and fair conduct of elections.

Technology can play a crucial role in preventing and detecting fraud. The use of secure electronic voting systems, coupled with paper trails for verification, can enhance the integrity of the vote-counting process. Equally important is the role of civil society and the media in monitoring elections, raising awareness about the signs of election fraud, and advocating for fair electoral practices.

In conclusion, election fraud is a threat to democratic principles. It not only distorts the immediate outcomes of elections but also has the potential to destabilize the foundations of democratic governance. Vigilance, legal safeguards, technological enhancements, and public engagement are essential to combat this threat and uphold the sanctity of the electoral process.

Election Policy

Definition and meaning of election policy: Election policy is the set of laws and guidelines that govern the conduct of elections. These policies are designed to ensure that the electoral process is fair, transparent and free of corruption. Election policy is often determined by the government in power, which can lead to a two-party system that favors incumbents. However, in some countries, independent election commissions are tasked with ensuring the fairness of the process. At its most basic, election policy is a set of rules that dictate how people can register to vote, how candidates can campaign, how ballots are counted and how results are determined. It also covers the roles of the media, political parties, third parties and other organizations that participate in the election process. In addition, election policy can also include laws and regulations that govern the financing of campaigns, the eligibility of candidates and the timing of elections. Election policy has a direct impact on the outcomes of elections, as it determines who can run for office and who has access to the ballot box. It is essential that any election policy be designed to encourage participation in the electoral process and to ensure the integrity of the results. Too often, restrictive election policies have been used to suppress the political participation of certain groups, making it harder for independent candidates to compete in the two-party system.

Electoral College

Definition and meaning of electoral college: The electoral college is a formal body of 538 electors that elects the President and Vice President. Each state has as many electors in the Electoral College as it has Senators and Representatives in Congress, including the District of Columbia’s three electors. When voters cast a vote in the Presidential election, they are actually voting for the slate of electors who will then cast their vote for the candidate in the Electoral College. This system was chosen as a compromise between a purely democratic process and one where Congress would choose the President. The electoral college ensures that smaller states have adequate representation in elections as well as it allows for elections to be widely accepted. However, This results in disproportionate voting power to states, with favor being placed on smaller states as well as the inability for voters to directly choose their representation.

There are several occasions in which the President elected lost the popular vote, which many Americans feel isn’t a true representation of what voters want. There is also the possibility of rogue electors. Electors are bound by tradition of voting for the candidate who won their state, but many states don’t have laws regulating an elector’s vote which has proved to be a problem several times throughout elections. Finally, an electoral college reinforces the two-party system by making it harder for a third party candidate to break into the national level and increases the risk that a third party candidate would create a spoiler effect, which discourages people from voting outside of the two-party system. 

The electoral college is an aggregate of 538 electors from every state that elects the President and Vice President. This system was chosen as a way to balance the voting power of more populous states and less populous states when voting for the president. 

Electoral Commission

Definition and meaning of electoral commission: An electoral commission is an independent body, typically established by the government, that is responsible for overseeing the process of elections and referendums within a country. Its primary role is to ensure that these democratic exercises are conducted fairly, freely, transparently, and impartially. The scope of responsibilities for an electoral commission can vary, but generally includes the administration and enforcement of electoral laws, the registration of voters and candidates, overseeing the actual conduct of elections, and ensuring the integrity of the electoral process.

An electoral commission serves as a guardian of democratic principles, ensuring that elections are a true reflection of the will of the people. This involves managing various aspects of the electoral process, such as delineating electoral boundaries, managing public information campaigns about voting, training election officials, monitoring campaign finance and spending, and handling the logistics of polling day.

In many countries, electoral commissions also play a role in addressing electoral disputes and irregularities, working to resolve these issues in a manner that is consistent with the law and democratic principles. Their decisions are crucial in maintaining the legitimacy and integrity of the electoral process.

Electoral commissions are seen as a means to ensure that elections are not swayed by corrupt practices, undue influence from powerful interest groups, or manipulation. A well-functioning, independent electoral commission can level the playing field, particularly for independent and third-party candidates who may not have the same resources or institutional support as candidates from major parties.

To maintain independence and objectivity, members of an electoral commission are typically appointed for their non-partisan and impartial nature, and there are often strict rules to prevent political interference in their work. This independence is crucial for the commission to effectively carry out its duties without bias or influence from political entities.

The effectiveness of an electoral commission is often measured by several factors, including the commission's ability to:

  1. Enforce Electoral Laws: Strictly and impartially applying laws and regulations related to elections.

  2. Promote Transparency: Conducting its operations in a transparent manner, allowing public scrutiny and building public trust in the electoral process.

  3. Encourage Voter Participation: Ensuring that all eligible voters are informed and have the opportunity to participate in the electoral process.

  4. Prevent and Address Fraud: Identifying and mitigating potential electoral fraud and addressing any instances of malpractice.

  5. Support Fair Competition: Providing a level playing field for all candidates, including independents and those from smaller parties.

In summary, an electoral commission plays a pivotal role in upholding democracy and ensuring the integrity of the electoral process. Its existence and proper functioning are key to preventing corruption and political manipulation, thereby ensuring that the electoral outcomes truly reflect the will of the electorate. This aligns with the goals of organizations like Good Party, which advocate for fair, transparent, and inclusive political processes.


Definition and meaning of embezzlement: Embezzlement is the intentional misappropriation of funds or property entrusted to one’s care. This illegal activity is often carried out by those in positions of authority, such as politicians, government officials, or corporate executives.

Examples of embezzlement include using campaign funds for personal gain, diverting public funds to line the pockets of political allies, or using company resources for one’s own benefit. This activity is especially rampant in the two-party system where there are few checks and balances, allowing individuals to abuse their position of power. A reform-minded citizenry must remain vigilant in order to prevent and expose those who participate in embezzlement.


Definition and meaning of endorsement: Endorsement is the public expression of support for a particular political candidate, party, or platform. Endorsements can come from individuals, organizations, or both, and can be used to draw attention to a candidate and signal a level of support.

In a two-party system, endorsements tend to come from partisan sources, which can limit the exposure of independent candidates. Reform-minded activists are advocating for more independent candidates and an end to the two-party system, believing that endorsements should come from a more diverse range of sources, including organizations that are not necessarily affiliated with any party. This would create more opportunities for candidates outside of the two-party system to be heard, and could open up the political process to new perspectives.


Definition and meaning of environmentalism: Environmentalism is a political and social movement that advocates for the protection of the environment and the restoration of natural resources. It is a proactive stance towards improving the environment, with an emphasis on conservation, sustainability, and the responsible use of resources.

Environmentalism is often associated with green politics, which is a growing movement in the United States and around the world. Environmentalism can be seen in many areas of policy, from energy efficiency to renewable energy, from water conservation to natural resource protection. Environmentalism is often associated with independent candidates and the push to end the two-party system. It encourages the exploration of alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, and works to reduce the negative impacts of climate change. Additionally, environmentalism strives to protect the rights of Indigenous people, ensure access to clean water, and make sure that environmental regulations are enforced. Ultimately, environmentalism is about taking a proactive approach to protecting the environment for future generations.


Definition and meaning of establishment: Establishment is a term used to describe the established political system in the United States. It is characterized by politicians and political forces who hold a great deal of power and influence in the country, and who are often seen as being part of the same ‘elite’. Examples of Establishment include the two major political parties, the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as the established powers of the government, such as the President and Congress. The term is often used to refer to those who have been in power for a long time and are seen as resistant to change and reform. Reform-minded individuals tend to view the Establishment as entrenched and out of touch with the public’s needs and desires. They often advocate for a change in the political power structure, in order to give more power and influence to the people.

Establishment Clause

Definition and meaning of Establishment Clause: The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution states that the government cannot promote or support any religion or religion in general. The Establishment Clause is meant to protect the rights of citizens from being forced to support or adhere to one specific religion, or to be discriminated against for not subscribing to a particular set of religious beliefs. Examples of the Establishment Clause in action include the Supreme Court ruling that public schools cannot require students to say prayers, nor can they organize religious classes or activities. Additionally, the government cannot fund or endorse certain religious events, symbols, or organizations.

Exhausted Ballot

Definition and meaning of exhausted ballot: An exhausted ballot is a type of ballot that is not counted towards the final vote tally in an election. This can happen when a voter casts a vote for a candidate who has already been eliminated from the race, or when a voter casts multiple votes for the same office, which is known as overvoting. In some cases, exhausted ballots may also be the result of a voter not properly filling out the ballot, such as by failing to properly mark their vote or by writing in a candidate who is not officially running for office.

Exhausted ballots can have a significant impact on the outcome of an election, particularly in races where there are multiple candidates or where the margin of victory is close. This is especially true in elections where independent or third-party candidates are running, as their votes may be split among multiple candidates, making it more likely that some of these votes will be exhausted.

For example, the state of Maine uses ranked choice voting, in which the voters can rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives the majority of first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and the votes for that candidate are redistributed to the voter's next-choice candidate. This process is repeated until one candidate receives a majority. In this way, exhausted ballots are avoided, and the voter's intention is respected.

On the other hand, not all states and municipalities have exhausted ballots. In some cases, this may be because the state or municipality uses a different voting system, such as plurality voting, where the candidate with the most votes wins, regardless of whether they have a majority.

In summary, exhausted ballot is a type of ballot that is not counted towards the final vote tally in an election. This can happen when a voter casts a vote for a candidate who has already been eliminated from the race, or when a voter casts multiple votes for the same office. Exhausted ballots can have a significant impact on the outcome of an election, particularly in races where there are multiple candidates or where the margin of victory is close. Some states and municipalities use different voting systems to avoid exhausted ballots such as ranked choice voting, which allows the voter to rank the candidates in order of preference.


Definition and meaning of extortion: In a political context, extortion refers to the coercive practice by which individuals or groups unlawfully demand benefits—usually money, services, or favors—from others under the threat of inflicting harm or detriment. In the realm of politics, this harm can be the misuse of political authority to damage someone's reputation, withhold resources, manipulate legal outcomes, or enact policies that would be detrimental to the victim.

The nature of political extortion can vary widely, from direct threats for financial gain to subtler forms of coercion, where the threat might be implied rather than explicitly stated. A common example is when a politician demands campaign contributions, promising favorable policy decisions in return or else threatening negative consequences if these demands are not met.

Extortion differs from bribery in that it involves a clear threat of harm if the person or group's demands are not met. While bribery typically involves a quid-pro-quo transaction (offering something of value for a specific favor), extortion centers around coercion and the abuse of power.

Political extortion undermines democratic principles and good governance. It erodes public trust in political institutions and leads to an environment where policy decisions are driven by the interests of a few rather than by the needs of the many. This can have far-reaching consequences, including the distortion of policy, misallocation of resources, and the entrenchment of corrupt political practices.

The fight against political extortion is crucial for promoting transparency, accountability, and fairness in governance. Independent political movements and third parties play a significant role in this battle. By promoting and adhering to principles of ethical conduct, advocating for stringent anti-corruption laws, and fostering a culture of accountability, such movements can help counter the scourge of extortion in politics.

Combating political extortion involves several key strategies:

  1. Strong Legal Frameworks: Implementing and enforcing laws that criminalize extortion and related corrupt practices.

  2. Institutional Integrity: Strengthening institutions responsible for oversight and accountability, such as anti-corruption agencies, the judiciary, and electoral commissions, to ensure they operate independently and effectively.

  3. Transparency and Open Governance: Encouraging open and transparent decision-making processes in government, which reduce opportunities for extortion.

  4. Public Awareness and Participation: Educating the public about their rights and the dangers of extortion in politics.

  5. Support for Whistleblowers: Protecting and encouraging those who expose corrupt practices, including extortion, within political and governmental systems.

In essence, political extortion is a corrosive force that threatens the foundations of a healthy democracy. It not only compromises the integrity of individual politicians and officials but also undermines the trust and confidence of the public in their political systems. Addressing this challenge is integral to ensuring a political landscape where decisions are made in the public interest and where democratic values are upheld and respected.