Glossary

Glossary of Terms

Democracy:

A government in which political power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically-held free elections.

District:

The geographical subdivision into which a city, state, or country is divided for elections.

Electoral System:

A set of laws and procedures that govern the election of public officials by specifying what percentage of the vote a candidate needs to be elected and how votes are tallied.

Fair Representation Voting Systems:

Used in many democracies to ensure that parties and political groups are allotted seats in legislative bodies in proportion to their share of the vote.  

Gender Quota:

A voluntary, legislative, or constitutionally mandated share of an elected body that women should comprise

Gender Cap:

A voluntary, legislative, or constitutionally mandated limit on the proportion of an elected body that can be made of up of either gender.

Intentional Actions:

Decisions that PACs, parties, donors, and gatekeepers can make to set targets for the recruitment and funding of women candidates.

Legislative Practices:

The procedures, customs, and rules within legislatures that govern when votes are taken, whether childcare is provided, and how committees operate.

Multi-Winner District (Multi-Member District):

A legislative district represented by more than one legislator.

Parity:

The state or condition of being equal in power, value, rank, etc. Gender parity is the point at which women and men are equally likely to hold an elected office.

Party Rules:

Internally set guidelines and procedures that govern the operations of political parties, including procedures for recruiting and supporting candidates.

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV):

A system that allows voters to rank candidates for office in order of preference, leading to a majority outcome in single-seat elections and a proportional outcome in multi-seat elections.

Recruitment Practices:

The practices and procedures of political parties, PACs and ‘gatekeepers’ that regulate and influence how candidates are recruited for public office.  

Representation:

The accurate reflection of voters’ diverse identities and opinions by those in political office.

Single-Winner District (Single-Member District):

A legislative district represented by a single legislator.  

Structural Barriers (Elections):

Characteristics of a system of elections that prevent certain groups from achieving equal opportunity for representation.

Targets:

Voluntary goals that parties, donors, PACs, corporate board, and government agencies can set to ensure that women are more fairly represented.

Winner-Take-All:

A term used to describe single or multi-winner district systems in which winning a plurality or majority of the vote guarantees 100% of the representation, leaving many citizens in the jurisdiction unrepresented.

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