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.

Vermont Progressive Party

Definition and meaning of Vermont Progressive Party: The Vermont Progressive Party is a political party in the United States that advocates for progressive causes and independent candidates. It was founded in 1999 and is the oldest and largest third party in the state of Vermont.

The Vermont Progressive Party is an independent, non-partisan organization that seeks to move beyond the two-party system. It is committed to reform-minded policies and practices that promote economic, social, environmental, and racial justice. The party is committed to a variety of causes, including environmental protection, single-payer healthcare, living wages, and the expansion of civil rights for all Americans. The party also promotes the idea of a more participatory democracy, including the use of recall elections and citizen initiatives. The Vermont Progressive Party is a powerful force for political change in the state and has elected numerous officials to state and local offices.


Definition and meaning of veto: A veto is a constitutionally granted power of the executive branch to reject a bill passed by the legislature. A veto is a check on the power of the legislature, allowing the executive branch to protect the interests of the people and prevent unjust legislation. For example, a president may veto a bill that would weaken certain environmental protections. In this case, the president can use the veto power to reject the bill and put the interests of the people first. Conversely, a president can also wield the veto as a tool to protect the interests of a powerful lobby or special interest group. Overall, the veto power is a double-edged sword that can be wielded for either good or bad. For reform-minded candidates, the veto is an important tool for stopping legislation that would not be in the best interests of the people.

Vice Mayor

Definition and meaning of vice mayor: A vice mayor, also sometimes known as a deputy mayor or assistant mayor, is an elected official in local government. Not all towns and cities have vice mayors. Vice mayors can play different roles in different communities, including acting as the town or city's chief operating officer or presiding over the city council. If the mayor dies, resigns, or is otherwise no longer able to serve in office, the vice mayor can serve as the acting mayor in their absence. The position of vice mayor is one of many local government offices that can benefit from independent candidates and a commitment to non-partisan governance.

Vote Buying

Definition and meaning of vote buying: Vote buying is a practice where individuals or parties offer material or monetary incentives to voters in exchange for their votes. This unethical practice undermines the principle of free and fair elections, as it shifts the electoral decision-making process from an informed choice based on policies and candidates' merits to a transactional exchange.

The practice of vote buying can take various forms. The most direct is the offer of cash for votes. However, vote buying can also be more subtle, involving the distribution of goods, services, or other benefits, such as food, clothing, job promises, or even waivers of debts. In some instances, vote buying includes offering longer-term benefits, like infrastructure projects or community services, targeted at a specific electorate in exchange for their support.

The implications of vote buying are profoundly damaging to the democratic process. It primarily affects the integrity and legitimacy of elections. When votes are bought, the election results do not truly reflect the will of the people but rather the interests and financial power of those engaging in vote buying. This practice disproportionately impacts marginalized and economically disadvantaged communities, where voters may feel compelled to trade their votes for immediate material benefits, further entrenching societal inequalities.

Moreover, vote buying contributes to a cycle of corruption and poor governance. Politicians or parties that engage in vote buying are likely to recover the costs of these activities once in power, often through corrupt or unethical means. This cycle diminishes the quality of governance, as elected officials focus on recouping their investments rather than serving the public interest. Additionally, vote buying perpetuates a political culture where money, rather than policies or competence, becomes the primary determinant of electoral success.

Combating vote buying requires a comprehensive approach. Strengthening legal frameworks to criminalize and impose severe penalties for vote buying is essential. However, legal measures alone are insufficient. There also needs to be effective enforcement of these laws, with independent and robust electoral commissions overseeing the electoral process.

Public education and awareness campaigns play a critical role in combating vote buying. Educating voters about the importance of casting votes based on informed decisions and the long-term consequences of vote buying can help reduce its prevalence. Encouraging voter participation and civic engagement also serves to strengthen the democratic process against such malpractices.

Transparency in campaign financing is another crucial element in combating vote buying. Clear and enforceable regulations regarding the sources and uses of campaign funds can help prevent the accumulation of illicit funds used for vote buying.

In conclusion, vote buying is a corrosive practice that undermines democracy. It devalues the electoral process, promotes corruption, and marginalizes the voice of the electorate. Addressing this issue requires a combination of legal, educational, and institutional measures, along with active public engagement and vigilance.

Voter Apathy

Definition and meaning of voter apathy: Voter apathy refers to the disinterest or indifference of eligible voters towards participating in electoral processes. Voter apathy often manifests in low voter turnouts, a lack of engagement with political discourse, and a general disinterest in public affairs. This phenomenon can be a barrier to the very essence of democracy: a government "of the people, by the people, for the people."

The causes of voter apathy are multifaceted and can differ across regions, cultures, and specific electoral contexts. Some causes include:

  • Distrust of Government: One of the primary causes of voter apathy is a deep-seated mistrust in political institutions. Citizens may believe that politicians or institutions are corrupt, inefficient, or simply out of touch with their realities.

  • Lack of Political Efficacy: This refers to a belief that one's vote doesn't matter or won't bring about change.

  • Barriers to Voting: Structural barriers, such as cumbersome voter registration processes, a lack of accessibility for disabled voters, or limited polling stations, can dampen voter enthusiasm.

  • General Discontent: Broader societal factors, such as economic downturns, social unrest, or perceived cultural divides, can foster disillusionment with the political process.

The repercussions of voter apathy are significant. Voter apathy can lead to an unrepresentative government, with leaders elected by only a small percentage of the total population. It can also lead to reduced government accountability and the erosion of democratic norms. Strategies like civic education, electoral reform, and increasing government transparency can help to relieve the symptoms of voter apathy.

Voter Guide

Definition and meaning of voter guide: A voter guide is a resource that provides information about candidates and issues on the ballot for an upcoming election. It can be in the form of a brochure, a website, or a video and it's intended to help voters make informed decisions at the polls. Voter guides can be produced by a variety of organizations, including political parties, advocacy groups, and media outlets.

Voter guides can include information such as a candidate's background, positions on key issues, and endorsements. They can also include information about initiatives and referendums that will appear on the ballot. Some voter guides are also more interactive, providing quiz or survey to help match a voter's preferences with the candidate or issue that aligns with them.

Voter guides can be very useful in providing voters with the information they need to make informed decisions. For example, the League of Women Voters produces a voter guide for nearly every state in the US, providing information about candidates and issues in a neutral and unbiased way. The Voter's Self Defense Manual from Ballotpedia is another example of a voter guide that provides information about candidates, issues, and the voting process in an easy-to-understand format.

With the abundance of information available on the internet, voter guides can be a valuable tool in helping voters navigate the complicated process of electing officials and deciding on ballot measures. They provide a concise and easy-to-use source of information that can help voters make informed decisions at the polls.

In summary, a voter guide is a resource that provides information about candidates and issues on the ballot for an upcoming election. It can be in the form of a brochure, a website, or a video and it's intended to help voters make informed decisions at the polls. Voter guides can be produced by a variety of organizations, including political parties, advocacy groups, and media outlets. They can be very useful in providing voters with the information they need to make informed decisions and are a valuable tool in helping voters navigate the complicated process of electing officials and deciding on ballot measures.

Voter Suppression

Definition and meaning of voter suppression: Voter suppression is the practice of limiting or inhibiting the ability of eligible voters to exercise their right to vote in an election. This is often done through discriminatory practices such as strict voter ID laws, purging of voter rolls, gerrymandering, and the manipulation of voting locations. These tactics are often employed by political parties, special interest groups, and elected officials to suppress the votes of those they deem unlikely to support their candidates or causes. Voter suppression also disproportionately affects minority populations, young people, and low-income communities. Voter suppression has a detrimental effect on our nation’s commitment to fairness and equal representation, as it undermines the fundamental right of citizens to participate in the democratic process. This type of manipulation of the electoral system is antithetical to the idea of free and fair elections, as it seeks to limit voter turnout and ultimately skew the outcome of the election. The result is a less diverse, less representative democracy that is more likely to be dominated by the two major political parties, which can lead to a lack of genuine competition and a decrease in the quality of representation for the American people.

Voter Turnout

Definition and meaning of voter turnout: Voter turnout is a measure of how many people actually vote in an election, as compared to the number of people eligible to vote. Low voter turnout may indicate that the people are not interested in the candidates or the issues at stake, or that the candidates are not communicating with the people in an effective manner. In these cases, it is important to encourage reform-minded candidates to run for office, and to increase the diversity of voices in the political process. Ultimately, the goal is to increase voter turnout so that the true will of the people is reflected in the results of elections.

Voting Machine

Definition and meaning of voting machine: A voting machine is a device that is used in elections to mechanically tabulate, process, and record votes. It is an automated system that allows for a secure and accurate way to cast and count votes. Voting machines are designed to be tamper-proof and are typically used in elections that involve multiple candidates or complex ballot initiatives. By utilizing a voting machine, the process of tabulating votes is expedited and the results are often more accurate and reliable.

Voting Rights Act of 1965

Definition and meaning of Voting Rights Act of 1965: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that aimed to protect the voting rights of citizens in all states, ensuring that all citizens had an equal right to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

This act was a huge step forward in the fight for civil rights, as it eliminated the various obstacles that had been used to deny people of color the right to vote. It established federal oversight role in local and state elections, requiring that certain areas with a history of racial discrimination had to obtain preclearance from the federal government before changing any voting laws. It also provided federal enforcement of voter registration, and the ability to sue for damages in the event of voting rights violations. This act was an important step in the struggle for greater political representation and independent candidates, allowing citizens to choose their representatives without external political influences.