glossary of elections terminology

Glossary of election terminology

The Rwandese cast their vote in the general election recently, and Kenyans are yet to cast theirs. On Tuesday 8th August 2017, the general election in Kenya will be held, across the country.

During this election period, we have heard very many words used, words which we do not ordinarily hear. Here is a list of all those words and what they mean:


Noun; a list of candidates and proposals that citizens use to cast a secret vote. The ballot may be printed on paper, set up on a voting machine or computer, or available on the Internet.


Noun; a person who is running for an elected position or competing for an elected position


Noun; a person chosen, usually by his political party, to run in an election


Noun; a series of actions performed to help in winning an election. For example, presidential campaigns include giving speeches, meeting voters, and debating against opponents.

Verb; to work over a period of time to reach a goal, such as winning an election


Noun; a meeting of party members to choose candidates to run in an election.


Noun; the document containing the main laws that govern the Country


Noun; a discussion or an argument about issues. In some political races, candidates take part in organized debates so voters can compare their views.


Noun; a person chosen to vote on other people’s behalf. Delegates vote for the candidates at their political party’s national convention, usually based on the results of their state’s primaries or caucuses.


Noun; a form of government in which the people choose their leaders in elections


Noun; a country’s system for managing its money and resources (such as workers) to make, buy, and sell goods. The economy usually grows if people make and buy more goods than they did the previous year. When that happens, more jobs become available

Election Day

Noun; the day when the general election is held


Noun; a formal announcement of support for a candidate by an individual or a group

Exit poll

Noun; a formal survey of voters leaving polling places on Election Day, asking them for which candidates they voted. Exit polls help predict an election’s outcome.

Foreign policy

Noun; a country’s plan for dealing with other nations


Noun; the candidate who is favored to win an election

General election

Noun; a contest on Election Day in August in which candidates are elected to office


Noun; a person who currently holds a position or an office


Noun; a voter, candidate, or an elected official who does not belong to a political party


Noun; an important problem to discuss or debate


Noun; an election in which the winner receives a much larger number of votes than the other candidates


Noun; more than half of the elected positions

Oath of office 

Noun; a formal promise a person makes to do the best that he or she can in a particular job or political office. The president takes an oath of office on inauguration day.

Political party

Noun; a group of citizens with similar ideas on how the country should be run. The two main U.S. political parties are the Democrats and the Republicans.


Noun;    1. a survey of people’s opinions or beliefs
2. a public place, such as a school, where voters cast ballots on Election Day; also known as a polling place

Popular vote

Noun; the votes cast by regular citizens on Election Day. In a popular vote, each citizen’s individual vote counts toward the outcome.


Noun; an election in a constituency or lower level to select a political party’s candidates for the general election. In closed primaries, only members of the political party can vote. In open primaries, all voters can take part.


Noun; a list of all citizens eligible to vote

Verb; to sign up formally for something, such as to vote

Running mate

Noun; a person running for public office with another candidate. A political party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates are running mates.


Noun; the right to vote


Noun; the length of time a public official serves in office. The term of the U.S. president is four years. The most a president can serve is two terms.


Noun; candidates supported by a political party to run together for important positions

We hope you find the glossary useful. Share with your friend, and let us all be informed!


This article appears in our digital law newsletter, The Deuteronomy Vol 8, Issue 1 of August 4th, 2017

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