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

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

The definition and meaning of 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. The Secretary of State is a high-ranking government official in the United States responsible for overseeing various administrative functions within a state government. 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 powers

The definition and meaning of 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 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.

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.

Spoiled Ballot

Definition: A Spoiled ballot is a ballot that has been incorrectly filled, incorrectly marked, or not marked at all, rendering it invalid. Meaning: A Spoiled ballot is an electoral vote that has not been correctly filled out and as a result is not counted in the final tally. This could be due to a voter not following the instructions correctly, or not filling out the ballot at all. Ultimately, a Spoiled ballot does not contribute to the outcome of an election and is discarded from the final tally.

State measure

State measure, by definition, 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 Supreme Court

The definition of 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.


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.

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.