Polyas Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

  • Absentee voting allows people to vote without having to be physically present on election day.
  • An abstained vote means voting neither for nor against any candidate or motion.
  • An Act of Parliament is a piece of primary legislation which has to pass through Parliament to become law.
  • Advance voting allows voters to cast their ballots before the scheduled election day or period.
  • An association's bylaws are essentially the constitution of the association.
  • Associations are organizations whose members share a common interest or work towards a common goal.
  • Authentication ensures that something is genuine. Only authenticated voters can participate in online voting.
  • A closed container into which voters deposit their ballot papers during an election.
  • The ballot box election is the traditional form of voting which takes place directly at the polling place.
  • The ballot paper is the form which eligible voters fill out in order to excercise their right to vote.
  • Bellwether states are those states in the US whose electorates tend to reflect the voting behavior of the entire country.
  • The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.
  • A block checksum ensures the safe transfer and storage of ballots in an online election
  • The board chairman is responsible for presiding over meetings of the board.
  • Board members sit on the governing board of an organization.
  • Board officers are responsible for the overall performance of an organization.
  • Government power is usually separated between different branches.
  • Brokered conventions occur when no individual wins a majority of delegates to become a party's presidential candidate.
  • The BSI is Germany's top federal authority regarding IT security.
  • The introduction and implementation of BSI standards is important for IT risk management. The standards include testing IT security and awarding IT security certificates.
  • By-elections are held to fill vacancies in the legislature which arise before the end of the legislative term.
  • Bylaws are rules created by organizations in order to regulate themselves.
  • The Canadian House of Commons is the lower chamber of the Canadian Parliament.
  • The Canadian Parliament is the country’s federal legislative branch of government.
  • The Canadian Senate is the upper chamber of the Canadian Parliament.
  • A caucus is part of the primary election process where party members vote for their preferred presidential candidate.
  • Chambers of commerce are associations of businesses which exist to influence and lobby government on issues impacting on business.
  • Church elections are held to select representatives to handle the administrative affairs of the church.
  • Cloture is a procedure used in the US Senate to end stalling debates.
  • A code of ethics is a set of guiding principles that help members of organizations, professionals or employees act with integrity as they carry out their roles.
  • Codetermination is a system of corporate governance under which employees of an organization can vote for representatives on its board of directors.
  • Common Criteria are internationally recognised security standards for the testing and assessment of IT products.
  • Compulsory voting refers to the practice of forcing a population to vote in a given election by law.
  • A conflict of interest arises when a person or organization has multiple interests, one of which threatens to corrupt the decision-making process of the person or organisation with regards to the other interest.
  • A constituency is a geographically defined area in which voters elect a representative to a legislative body such as a parliament.
  • A constitution is a set of fundamental rules that determine how a country or state is run.
  • Cooperatives are membership organizations which share a common interest and are owned by the members.
  • A council chairman leads meetings of council officers.
  • Council elections serve the purpose of electing local government representatives.
  • Council officers are tasked with managing the overall performance of an organization.
  • Credit unions are financial cooperatives which are owned by their members.
  • Cumulative voting allows voters to cast several votes for one candidate in an election.
  • In a proportional representation system, the number of votes won by each party needs to be translated into seats. The D'Hondt-method is one way of allocating seats amongst parties.
  • Data backup involves copying data for safe-keeping.
  • Data protection generally refers to securing data against loss or damage.
  • Data security generally refers to securing data against unauthorized use.
  • Delegates are people authorized to vote on behalf of others in an indirect election.
  • A digital key consists of random strings, which combined with an algorithm convert data into coded text.
  • The Digital Single Market is a strategy for strengthening the digital economy within the EU.
  • Digital voting (also known as web voting) refers to systems which make use of digital technologies, specifically the internet, to allow people to vote in an election and votes to be counted online.
  • Direct elections are those in which the electorate cast votes directly for candidates or political parties.
  • A donkey vote is a type of vote which can be cast under a preferential voting system.
  • Early voting occurs when voters can cast their vote before the official election day.
  • During an election campaign, candidates or parties compete for votes.
  • Election day refers to the day that voters participate in an election, and election night is the evening after in which the results are normally announced.
  • Voter fraud, electoral fraud or vote rigging are intentional, illegal actions aimed at changing or influencing or forcing the results of an election.
  • Here are the core principles of a democratic election for political elections as established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
  • Election software enables people to set up and vote in elections online.
  • An election is a democratic procedure through which one or more persons are chosen as executives or representatives in certain bodies.
  • An electoral college is a process, rather than a college or building. It consists of a group of people who are responsible for electing a candidate into a particular office.
  • An electoral system regulates the entire election process.
  • E-voting systems enable votes in an election to be cast and/or counted electronically.
  • The executive branch of government is responsible for the overall governance of a state.
  • The Federal Election Campaign Act is the main law governing campaign finance in the US.
  • The Federal Election Commission regulates campaign finance in US federal elections.
  • A filibuster is a tactic used by minorities in the US Senate to stall parliamentary decisions by prolonging debates.
  • First past the post is the electoral system used in UK and US elections.
  • George Pólya was a mathematician and is the namesake of Polyas.
  • A United States Governor is the chief officer in their state. They function as the head of State government, therefore overseeing the proper functioning of the state.
  • A hanging chad is a fragment of a punched card ballot paper, which remains attached to it, resulting in an incompletely filled out ballot.
  • Hard money is a donation or contribution made directly to a specific political candidate.
  • The Hare-Niemeyer method is a mathematical method to calculate the allocation of seats in a proportional representation election.
  • The House of Representatives is the lower chamber in the United States Congress.
  • In-house elections are those in which voters have to be present at a polling place in order to participate.
  • An independent politician is someone who it not affiliated with a political party.
  • Internet elections are those in which ballot papers are filled out electronically, using the internet.
  • An invalid vote is a vote which doesn't count towards the final election result.
  • IT risk management describes a catalogue of security measures outlined by the BSI, for the purpose of protecting IT systems against various hazards.
  • IT-Security refers to the confidentiality, integrity and availability of IT systems.
  • iVoting refers to systems which allow people to vote in an election or referendum from any device connected to the internet.
  • The Joint Chiefs of Staff is a group of senior military leaders in the US Department of Defense.
  • Labor unions are representational bodies of groups of workers who band together in order to protect their interests and rights through collective bargaining.
  • Law
    Laws are rules recognized by communities or societies which regulate the actions of their citizens.
  • A legal rule is one which has been officially approved by a state's legislative body
  • The term “legislative process” refers to the procedure through which a proposed law goes in order to become law.
  • The legislative term is the period of time for which an elected official holds office.
  • Licensing boards are bodies which have the authority to grant licenses to people so that they can work in a particular profession.
  • In a list election several candidates are elected together 'en bloc' through party election lists.
  • Majority vote is an election system in which a candidate with the majority of votes wins the election.
  • The term mandate refers to an order or authorization, and in political terms specifically describes the authority given by an electorate to someone acting as its representative.
  • Mutuals are member organizations which operate for the benefit of their members and provide services to them.
  • Net neutrality is the concept that Internet service providers have to treat all data equally.
  • None of the above is an option that allows a voter to not cast vote for any of the candidates on a ballot.
  • An appointed official acting as an external examiner on government institutions that works independently to protect the rights of the people.
  • Online polling describes a digital decision-making process
  • Online voting allows entire elections to be set up and completed online.
  • Panachage allows voters to allocate their votes to candidates across different party lists.
  • Parliamentary sovereignty means that parliament is superior to the executive and judicial branches of government
  • A political action committee (PAC) in the United States is an organization which collects funds from members and then directs them towards political campaigns.
  • Political pressure groups are organizations set up in order to influence government policy making, legislation and public opinion.
  • Polls allow decisions to be reached by casting votes.
  • A polling card provides information about the logistics of how and where people can vote in an election or referendum.
  • A polling place is a physical location where people go to cast their vote during an election
  • The term “popular vote” has two different meanings.
  • Postal voting is a form of absentee voting.
  • The US presidential election process is relatively complex by global standards.
  • Primaries are conducted to select a candidate within a party, especially in the Presidential election.
  • The Prime Minister in Canada is the head of government and the most powerful member of the core executive.
  • Proportional representation means seats are allocated to parties on the basis of their share of the total vote.
  • A protest vote is cast in an election or referendum in order to convey the voter’s disapproval of the available options or the political system as a whole.
  • Provisional ballots ensure that all qualified voters have a chance to cast a ballot even if their eligibility is questioned at the polls.
  • Proxy voting means having someone else cast a vote on your behalf.
  • Push polling is a controversial form of negative campaigning in which pseudo opinion polls are used to influence the views and beliefs of voters.
  • The Canadian Regulated Health Professions Act establishes the regulatory and legal framework for all health professionals in Canada.
  • A regulation is a law issued by an executive body.
  • Council members of regulatory colleges make up the governing body (the Council) of those organizations.
  • Regulatory colleges are legal, governing bodies which regulate the practice of a particular profession.
  • Republicanism is the major political philosophy in the United States.
  • A resolution is a decision an organization makes to take a particular course of action.
  • Royal colleges are regulatory colleges in Commonwealth countries which have had royal patronage and been allowed to use “royal” in the title of their organization.
  • Safe Harbour was a decision made by the EU Commission in order to protect personal data transfer in the US.
  • Sealing the ballot box means closing it off so that its contents can’t be tampered with.
  • Single transferable vote (STV) is a electoral system in which seats are allocated to candidates in order to achieve proportional representation, and where each candidate is ranked in order of preference by voters.
  • Social clubs are organizations that consist of members that have a common interest.
  • Soft money is a donation or contribution made to a political party.
  • A spoilt vote is a ballot that has been declared void and will not be included in the vote count.
  • Staff council is the term for a works councils in public institutions.
  • Swing states are those in US presidential elections that could potentially be won by either candidate.
  • Tactical voting refers to the practice of voting for a candidate that is not one's favorite in order to prevent a less desirable candidate from winning.
  • The Democratic Party in the US is one of the two major political parties in the country today.
  • The judiciary is a country's court system.
  • Legislatures are countries' or states' primary law-making bodies.
  • The Republican Party in the US is one of the two major political parties in the country today.
  • The US census is a count of the population of the country held every ten years by the United States Census Bureau
  • Trustee elections are undertaken in certain organizations to elect their governing board - the board of trustees.
  • The US Congress is the legislative branch of government in the United States.
  • The US electoral college is the body which directly elects the US President and Vice President.
  • The US Senate is the upper chamber of Congress.
  • The US Vice President is an important position in the executive branch of federal government.
  • Voter fatigue refers to the apathy and disengagement an electorate may feel.
  • Voter secrecy is a fundamental democratic principle whereby voters are free to anonymously cast their vote in an election or referendum.
  • Voter suppression occurs when a certain group is prevented from voting.
  • Voter turnout shows the percentage of eligible voters who actually cast a vote.
  • Voting booths are small, usually enclosed, spaces when voters can secretly cast their vote.
  • Electronic voting machines are specialized devices used in polling stations.
  • The Webster or Sainte-Laguë/Schepers method is used to calculate the allocation of seats in an election.
  • Write-in candidates are candidates whose names do not appear on the ballot but are filled in regardless.