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.

Same Day Voter Registration

Definition and meaning of Same Day Voter Registration: Same Day Voter Registration is a process in which eligible voters have the ability to register to vote on the same day as the election. This greatly enhances the ability for individuals to participate in elections, especially those who may not have registered long before the election date. Same Day Voter Registration can be seen as a way to promote greater voter participation and greater political engagement. It also opens up the possibility for more independent candidates to enter the political arena, as the two-party system can be difficult to break into. Same Day Voter Registration can also help to reduce the influence of moneyed interests, as those who are registered can more easily participate in elections and have their voices heard. In turn, this can lead to a more democratic system and a more representative government.

Secretary of State

Definition and meaning of Secretary of State: The Secretary of State is the highest ranking cabinet official of the United States government and is responsible for the nation’s foreign policy.

The secretary of state is also an elected official for each state in the union. Their duties may include managing state elections, maintaining official state records, administering licensing programs, serving as the state's chief diplomat, and playing a role in the governor's policy agenda. The Secretary of State plays a crucial role in ensuring that state laws are implemented fairly and efficiently.

At the federal level, this individual is selected by the President and is a member of the Presidential cabinet. The Secretary of State is the top diplomat for the United States, tasked with representing the nation’s interests abroad and negotiating with foreign governments. This individual is also responsible for setting the President’s foreign policy agenda and advising the President on international matters. The current two-party system has created an environment where the Secretary of State is often appointed based on political loyalty and not necessarily based on qualifications or experience. This has led to an entrenched and broken foreign policy system that is often prone to partisan bickering and gridlock. A more progressive and independent approach to choosing a Secretary of State would be beneficial to the nation and allow for a more effective and efficient foreign policy. By allowing for more independent candidates to be considered for the office, the nation could benefit from a less partisan and more thoughtful approach to foreign relations.

Separation of Church and State

Definition and meaning of separation of church and state: The separation of church and state is the legal and political principle which holds that government and religious institutions should be kept separate and distinct from one another. This principle was established in the United States in the late 18th century as part of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The goal of this principle is to protect the government from religious influence, and to protect religious institutions from government interference. This ensures the right of citizens to practice their religion without interference from the government, and also helps to ensure that the government remains neutral when it comes to religious beliefs. Separation of church and state helps to ensure that the government is not beholden to any particular religious group, and that citizens are free to support any political candidate or party without fear of their religious views being taken into consideration. This is especially important in our current political climate, where the two-party system often leaves independent candidates and third-party candidates with no chance of success. Separation of church and state is essential to maintaining an open and fair political system.

Separation of Powers

Definition and meaning of separation of powers: Separation of powers is a principle of governance in which the three branches of government—legislative, executive, and judicial—are kept independent from one another. This principle is intended to prevent any one branch from accumulating too much power and becoming tyrannical. The separation of powers also encourages a system of checks and balances, with each branch able to act as a check on the other two branches. Separation of powers is an essential feature of a democratic society, as it allows for a more diverse range of voices to be heard. This can help to create a more egalitarian society, in which individual rights are protected and power is more evenly distributed. An independent candidate or third party is able to challenge the two major parties and the status quo. This can help to create more accountability and transparency in the government, and can also lead to better public policy. Separation of powers also helps to ensure that all branches of the government are accountable to the people. This means that the government is held responsible for its actions and can be held to account by the public. This is a critical part of any democracy, as it allows citizens to have a say in how their government is run and how their rights are respected.


Definition and meaning of separatism: Separatism is a political philosophy that advocates for the independence and autonomy of distinct groups or individuals, often through the formation of independent political entities. Separatists may seek to create their own nation-state, or to achieve autonomy within an existing state.

This form of political expression is fundamentally opposed to the two-party system, as it seeks to create a more diverse and independent set of political actors. Examples of separatist movements in the United States include the American Indian Movement, the Free State Movement, and the Texas Nationalist Movement. In all of these cases, separatists attempt to create a distinct and independent political identity that is not beholden to the two-party system.


Definition and meaning of sheriff: Sheriff is an elected official in many states in the United States. Their primary role is to maintain law and order in their jurisdiction. The sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer in the county and is responsible for upholding the law, managing the county jail, and providing court security. In some counties, the sheriff is also responsible for collecting taxes and issuing marriage licenses. The office of sheriff is an important part of the two-party system in the United States, as they are usually elected on a party-line basis. However, it is becoming more common for independent candidates to run for sheriff, advocating for more diverse approaches to criminal justice and law enforcement. This movement is challenging the two-party system and allowing for more independent voices in local politics.

Simple Majority

Definition and meaning of simple majority: Simple majority is the most basic form of majority rule and occurs when more than half of the votes cast in an election are in favor of the winning candidate or candidate's platform. Simple majority is a popular way to decide an election because it can be achieved with a minimum of votes. This means that a small number of individuals can determine the overall outcome of an election, and it can be difficult for independent candidates to gain traction in the face of a two-party system. Simple majority can be a powerful tool for those in power to maintain the status quo, which is why many reform-minded individuals are advocating for other forms of majority rule, such as supermajority, to give a greater voice to independent voters and candidates.

Single-Member District

Definition and meaning of single-member district: A single-member district is an area of representation in which a single representative is elected to serve the needs of the people in that designated district. This means that instead of a larger number of representatives being elected to represent a larger population, one representative is elected to serve the needs of a smaller population. In the United States, single-member districts are used in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House of Representatives, there are 435 districts, each of which is represented by a single individual, with the total number of representatives determined by the U.S. Census every ten years. In the Senate, each state is represented by two senators, also elected based on the population of the state. Single-member districts are a useful way to ensure that representatives are more accountable to their constituents, as they are only accountable to the people in their district. This helps to ensure that representatives are more responsive to the needs of their constituents.

The alternative to single-member districts is multi-member districts.

Social Democracy

Definition and meaning of social democracy: Social democracy is an ideology that advocates for reforms to the existing political and economic systems in order to create a more equitable and just society. Social democracy seeks to promote social justice through progressive taxation, public education, and social welfare programs. It also believes in curtailing the influence of large corporations by introducing regulations that protect workers and consumers. Social democracy is not a form of socialism; rather, it is a more moderate approach that focuses on gradual reform and progressive, rather than revolutionary, change. Examples of social democratic policies include minimum wage laws, public health care, and environmental regulations. Social democracy is a powerful movement that has the potential to bring about meaningful change. It encourages the creation of independent, third-party candidates who are more likely to challenge the status quo and promote diverse perspectives. It also seeks to break down the traditional two-party system, which can lead to further political polarization. Ultimately, social democracy seeks to create a more equitable society where all citizens have access to basic needs and a voice in the political process.


Definition and meaning of socialism: Socialism is a socio-economic system in which the means of production and distribution of goods and services are collectively owned and managed by a government, or by the people themselves. This system is based on the idea of collective responsibility, and as such, it aims to ensure that everyone is provided with a basic level of economic security and stability, regardless of their individual economic standing. In practice, socialism seeks to reduce economic inequality by providing free or subsidized services such as healthcare, education, and housing. Additionally, it also seeks to ensure that workers have a greater say in their working conditions and the direction of their industries. This is done by providing additional labor rights, such as the right to collective bargaining and the right to organize. By providing greater economic security and stability, socialism can also help to reduce the power of large corporations and the two-party system. Additionally, it can help to provide more opportunities for independent candidates and reduce the influence of special interests.

Speaker of the House

Definition and meaning of Speaker of the House: Speaker of the House is an elected position in the United States Congress. The Speaker of the House is the highest ranking member of the majority party in the House of Representatives and is responsible for overseeing the legislative process. The Speaker of the House is the second in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency and is second only to the Vice President in terms of power and influence. The Speaker of the House is traditionally a member of the majority party in the House, although there have been some instances of independent candidates being elected to the position. The Speaker of the House is responsible for setting the agenda for the House of Representatives, leading debate, and appointing members to committees. The Speaker also has the power to recognize individual members of Congress and can be a major influence in the passage of legislation.

Special Interest Group

Definition and meaning of special interest group: A special interest group is an organized group of people who share a common goal and strive to influence public policy and government decisions. These groups are typically funded by wealthy individuals and corporations, and have the ability to sway public opinion and legislation. They often use lobbying, advocacy, and other strategies to influence public policy. Examples of special interest groups include the National Rifle Association (NRA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). These powerful organizations have the ability to influence legislators, shape public opinion, and even alter the outcome of elections. It is important to recognize the power of special interest groups and the potential for them to undermine the democratic process. Special interest groups often have the financial resources to influence elections and lobby for policies that benefit a few at the expense of the many. When special interests are allowed to dominate the political process, it can lead to a two-party system where the views of independent candidates are ignored and citizens are unable to have their voices heard. If the public wishes to see true democracy in action, it is essential to limit the power of special interest groups and ensure that all voices are heard and considered.

Splinter Party

Definition and meaning of splinter party: A splinter party is a political party that has broken away from an existing party in order to advocate for a different set of beliefs or policies. It is often seen as a result of a disagreement or conflict between different factions within a party. Splinter parties usually form in order to bring more attention to a particular issue or position that has been overlooked by the main party. Examples of splinter parties include the Free Soil Party in the 1840s, the Bull Moose Party in the early 1900s, and the Progressive Party in the 1940s. Splinter parties often challenge the existing two-party system in the United States, as they provide an alternative to the two major parties and can open up conversations on topics that are not typically discussed in mainstream politics.

Split the Vote

Definition and meaning of split the vote: "Splitting the vote" refers to a situation where voters who support a particular political ideology or candidate are divided between two or more candidates, thereby reducing their collective vote share and increasing the chances of a candidate they do not support winning the election. In the context of voting for independent and third-party candidates, splitting the vote can occur when multiple candidates with similar political beliefs or platforms run in the same election, potentially causing the vote to be divided among them instead of being consolidated behind a single candidate. This can result in the candidate or party with the most support still losing the election to a candidate or party with less support but who benefits from the vote split.

Split Ticket

Definition and meaning of split ticket: Split ticket voting is a reform-minded method of voting in which a voter chooses candidates from different political parties for different offices in the same election. This form of voting allows a voter to express their individual views on the many issues that cross political party lines. It can also help to encourage and strengthen independent candidates by allowing voters to support them without sacrificing their political views on other issues. Split ticket voting can also be beneficial to the two main political parties by keeping them accountable to their constituents on each issue. One example of split ticket voting would be voting for a Republican candidate for president and a Democratic candidate for Congress. By employing the split ticket option, voters can challenge the status quo of the two-party system and express more of their individual opinions on the issues that are important to them. Split ticket voting encourages more independent thought and more consideration for issues that may not be addressed by the two major parties. The opposite of split ticket voting is straight ticket voting.

Spoiled Ballot

Definition and meaning of spoiled ballot: A spoiled ballot is a ballot that has been incorrectly filled, incorrectly marked, or not marked at all, rendering it invalid. Ultimately, a Spoiled ballot does not contribute to the outcome of an election and is discarded from the final tally.

State Legislator

Definition and meaning of state legislator: A state legislator is an elected officeholder in a state government who is responsible for making laws, policies, and regulations that apply to that particular state. State legislators are responsible for representing the interests of their constituents in the state government and are typically elected from local districts to serve in either the upper or lower house of the state legislature.

State legislators are often members of the major political parties in the state, but there is a growing movement to elect more independent candidates, who are not beholden to the two major parties, and who can represent the interests of their constituents without being bound by party loyalties. State legislators are the cornerstone of our democracy, and it is important to ensure that they represent the true interests of their constituents, rather than the interests of the two major parties.

State Measure

Definition and meaning of state measure: A state measure is a law or constitutional amendment proposed or passed by a state legislature that is binding on all people in the state. It is distinct from federal law in that it applies only to the people of the state, and not to all citizens of the United States. State measures can be passed by a majority vote in the legislature, or by referendum in some states. State measures can range from setting the minimum wage to regulating public utilities, and can affect any number of topics. Often, state measures are used to push against the two-party system by advocating for independent candidates or policies that may not be supported by the two major parties. This can allow for greater diversity of opinions and representation in state politics, and can help to create a more open and inclusive political landscape. State measures are a powerful tool for creating real change in the political landscape, and can be a powerful way to empower the people of a state to shape their own destiny. By utilizing state measures, citizens can have a direct say in the laws that affect their lives, and can create a more open, responsive, and democratic political system.

State Senator

Definition and meaning of state senator: State senators are representatives of their constituents in their respective state governments. They are elected by the people and their responsibility is to represent the interests of their constituents in the state legislature. State senators can propose and vote on laws, as well as serve on committees that oversee the budget, taxation, infrastructure, and other important issues. State senators are a vital part of our democracy, as they are the link between the citizens of a state and their government. They have the power to shape the laws of their state, as well as have a say in the direction of their state's future. This makes it important to have independent, reform-minded state senators who are willing to challenge the two-party system.

State Supreme Court

Definition and meaning of state supreme court: A state supreme court is the highest court of a state's judicial branch. These courts have the power to interpret and decide the constitutionality of state laws and the power to review decisions made by lower courts. The state supreme court is composed of justices, who are appointed or elected to serve on the court. These justices are meant to be independent of any political party and act as a check on the government. The state supreme court is an important part of our democratic system, as it ensures that laws are applied fairly and consistently. It also provides a check on the government, ensuring that it does not overstep its bounds. As such, it is important that justices on the court are chosen independent of any political party, so that the court is able to make impartial decisions. In addition, the state supreme court is an important avenue for citizens to challenge laws that they feel are unjust. By appealing to the court, citizens can attempt to have a law overturned if they believe it violates their constitutional rights. This is an important part of protecting the rights of all citizens. The state supreme court is an essential part of our democracy and should be protected from any and all political influence. It is important that justices on the court remain independent and impartial, so that all citizens can have access to justice.

Straight Ticket

Definition and meaning of straight ticket: Straight ticket voting is a voting method used in American politics that allows voters to cast a single vote for the entire slate of candidates from a single political party. This type of voting is seen by many reformers as a form of polarization that reinforces the existing two-party system. Additionally, straight ticket voting makes it harder for independent and third-party candidates to gain traction and break into the political mainstream. In most states, straight ticket voting is available either as a physical lever that can be pulled on a voting machine or as an option on a computerized ballot. Some states have even implemented “no-excuse” straight ticket voting, which allows citizens to vote for an entire party's slate of candidates without ever actually going through and voting on individual races. Straight ticket voting has come under scrutiny in recent years, as many reformers argue that it is detrimental to the electoral process. By making it easier to vote for an entire party's slate of candidates, it reduces the importance of candidates and issues and increases the influence of party loyalty. Additionally, it encourages the two-party system, making it harder for independent and third-party candidates to gain traction. The alternative to straight ticket voting is known as split ticket voting.


Definition and meaning of suffrage: Suffrage is the right to vote. Suffrage is the ultimate expression of a free and democratic society. It is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy and has been a long-fought-for goal of those seeking to improve the lives of all citizens. The right to vote has been a hard-fought battle for people of color, women, and those of lower socio-economic backgrounds. The true meaning of suffrage is a right to have a say in the decisions of the nation and to be a part of the democratic process. When we have the right to vote, we can challenge the status quo and push for needed reform.

Super PAC

Definition and meaning of Super PAC: A Super PAC is a type of political action committee (PAC) that can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations, unions, and other special interest groups that can be used to fund political campaigns. Super PACs are not subject to the same restrictions as traditional PACs and can accept unlimited contributions from any individual or organization. They can also spend unlimited funds to influence the outcome of elections, but are prohibited from directly contributing to a candidate's campaign or coordinating with a candidate's campaign. Super PACs are often criticized for their potential to allow the wealthy to influence the political process in an unequal way.


Definition and meaning of superdelegate: A superdelegate is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) who is not selected by primary or caucus voters, but rather by party officials and elected leaders. Superdelegates have the power to influence the outcome of the Democratic presidential nomination process by casting a vote for any candidate they choose, regardless of how their constituents voted. Superdelegates are unpledged delegates, meaning they are not obligated to support any candidate, and they can change their vote at any time. In order to reduce the power of superdelegates, many reform-minded organizations are advocating for a change in the system. For example, the DNC has proposed a plan that would limit the number of superdelegates and give them less power in the nomination process. This proposal would also require superdelegates to publicly declare which candidate they are supporting. This would ensure that the nomination process is more democratic and less influenced by party leaders.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Definition and meaning of Superintendent of Public Instruction: The Superintendent of Public Instruction is an elected official who is responsible for overseeing the education system in their state. This means ensuring that students are receiving proper instruction, developing educational curriculum, and managing the finances of the school system. Superintendents of Public Instruction are typically elected by the voters of their state and are responsible for selecting, evaluating, and ultimately overseeing the day-to-day operations of public schools. This position can be filled by any qualified individual, regardless of party affiliation, as a way of breaking the two-party system and allowing for more independent representatives in government. Superintendents of Public Instruction are also responsible for advocating for the educational needs of their constituents, including ensuring adequate funding and resources. These individuals play a vital role in reforming the educational system and ensuring that students are receiving quality instruction.


Definition and meaning of supermajority: A supermajority refers to a certain number of votes required to pass a bill or other legislative action in a government body. This number is usually higher than a simple majority, often two-thirds or three-fourths. Supermajority voting is commonly used in the United States Congress and in most state legislatures to ensure that a bill has wide support before it is passed. The use of supermajority voting can lead to gridlock, as it is difficult for a single party to achieve the necessary support.

Swing Voter

Definition and meaning of swing voter: A swing voter is someone who does not consistently vote for the same political party and whose vote can potentially "swing" an election in favor of one candidate or another. These voters tend to be more independent and less partisan, and they often make their decisions based on the specific issues and candidates at hand rather than blindly following a particular party.

Swing voters can play a significant role in elections, especially in close races where a small number of votes can make a big difference. They are often seen as a key demographic that candidates and political parties try to woo and persuade in order to win their support.

However, swing voters may be a missed opportunity to challenge the dominance of the major parties. By not consistently aligning with a particular party, swing voters may be seen as diluting the power of independent and third party candidates who are trying to break the two-party monopoly.

According to the Pew Research Center, around 40% of American voters identify as independents, which suggests that there is a large pool of potential swing voters in the United States. However, these voters are often overlooked by the major parties, which tend to focus their efforts on energizing their own base rather than reaching out to independents.

In order to create a more diverse and representative democracy, it is important to encourage swing voters to engage with the political process and to consider the full range of candidates and viewpoints available to them. By doing so, we can create a more open and inclusive political system that works for everyone.