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Glossary of terms

A motion of non-confidence(alternatively vote of non-confidence) is a parliamentary motion whose passing would demonstrate to the head of state (country) that the appointed government no longer has the confidence of the elected parliament.

Accountabilityresponsibility to someone or for some activity. What voters expect from their leaders

Ballot—the paper you mark (or the machine marks at your bidding) regarding your preferences on candidates and ballot proposals.

Campaign contribution—finances for an election. Every candidate needs money. Contribute. Don’t leave the financing job to “special interests.”

Candidate—the person who declares his willingness to seek political office.

Franchise—your right to vote based on eligibility.

Grass roots—where the political process starts: in the neighborhood. Perhaps a small political discussion group will “start the ball rolling.”

Issue—something of current interest and concern. As a citizen you have a right to identify issues that concern you.

Mass meetings—neighborhood gatherings held in some states to choose county and state delegates and to organize each voting district.

Nomination—to appoint or propose for appointment to an office or place. A candidate needs to be nominated in some way by the voice of the people, either by another person or by petition.

Party headquarters—the main office of a political party.

Party worker—you, if you’re willing to get involved. Beware that you don’t attach a “mystique” to someone who is engaged in party affairs.

Petition—a collection of signatures advocating a certain proposal. A potential candidate may need your signature on a form endorsing his candidacy.

Platform—a political party’s position paper on issues. Its viewpoint is expressed on each item.

Politician—generally a person who has been elected and appointed to office, but also all those associated with elected and appointed officials. A special note: this is a good title.

Political convention—a large gathering to choose candidates, held at city, province, and federal levels.

Polls, polling place—the place of voting for either a provincial or a federal election. Find out where it is and the hours it is open.

Registration—the process of signing in and identifying yourself at your local polling station before every election.

Riding—names given to the local area for political organization.

Referendum—an issue that has been placed on the ballot by petition (often a proposed amendment to the country’s constitution).