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Median-voter Theorum

when voters engage in issue voting, competition between two candidates has the effect of pushing the candidates' positions toward the middle distribution of voters' preferences

Adverse selection problem

the problem of incomplete information - of choosing alternatives without fully knowing the details of available options

Moral hazard

not knowing all aspects of the actions taken by an agent (nominally on behalf of the principle but potentially at the principal's expense)

Agency Approach

people would rather spend their own time on their own things - delegate power to agents focuses on the control of the agent

Consent Approach

emphasizes right of the citizen to participate in government by voting (form of consent)

Turnout rate

the ration comparing the number of people who voted to some baseline population

"Motor voter" Bill

(1993) - people can register to vote when they renew their driver's liscence. Registration froms must be in the DMV, public assistance and military recruitment offices

majority system

a type of electoral system in which, to win a seat in a representative body, a candidate must receive a majority (50 percent plus 1) of all the votes cast in the relevent district

plurality system

a type of electoral system in which victory goes to the individual who gets the most votes in an election, but not necessarily a majority of the votes cast

proportional representation

a multi-member district system that allows each political party representation in proportion to its percentage of the vote (used in Democratic primary election)


the apportionment of voters in districts in such a way as to give unfair advantage to one political party

"Benign" racial gerrrymandering

drawing lines to make it easier for minority groups to be represented

Shaw v. Reno

if congressional districts were so "bizarre" as to be inexplicable on any grounds other than an effort to ensure election of minority group members to office, white voters would have reason to assert they had been victims of racial gerrymandering

Miller v. Johnson

questioned benign racial gerrymandering by asserting that the use of race as a "predominant factor" in the drawing of district lines was presumptively unconstitutional. Race should be one of the factors

Electoral College

the presidential electors from each state who meet in their respective state capitol after the popular election to cast ballots for president and vice president

Australian Ballot

an electoral format that presents the names of all the candidates for any given office on the same ballot. Introduced at the end of the 18th century, the Australian ballot replaced the partisan ballot and facilitated split-ticket voting

Ticket Splitting

voting for candidates in different parties for different offices; facilitated bu the Australian ballot


the practice of referring a measure proposed or passed by a legislature to the vote of the electorate for approval or rejection


a process by which a citizen may petition to place a policy proposal on the ballot for public office

recall election

the removal of a public official by popular vote

prospective voting

voting based on the imagined future performance of a candidate

retrospective voting

voting based on the past performance of a candidate

"Balance the ticket"

make certain that a party's ticket included members of as many important groups as possible

Political Action Committee (PAC)

private groups that raise and distribute funds for use in election campaigns

527 Organizations

Tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activities often through unlimited "soft money" contributions. The committees are not restricted by current law on campaign finance, thus exploiting a loophole in the Internal Revenue Service Code

issue advocacy

independent spendintg by individuals or interest groups that support a campaign issue but is not directly tied to a particular candidate (free from regulation)

soft money

contributed to political parties and recycled into campaigns but not contributed directly to a candidate and not subjected to limitations of Federal Election Campaign Act

hard money

contributed directly to political campaigns

Federal matching funds

Federal Election Campaign Act provides for public funding of presidential candidates. Candidates must raise at least $5,000 in individual contributions of $200 or less in each of 20 states and may then apply for federal funds to match all individual contributions of $250 or less that they receive

Federal Election Commission (FEC)

oversees campaign finance practices in the United States

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