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A person selected to represent the people of one geographic area at a party convention.

direct primary

An election held within each of the two major parties—Democratic and Republican—to choose the party's candidates for the general election. Voters choose the candidate directly, rather than through delegates.


A member of the Electoral College.

Electoral College

The group of electors who are selected by the voters in each state to elect officially the president and vice president The number of electors in each state is equal to the number of that state's representatives in both chambers of Congress.

general election

A regularly scheduled election to choose the U.S. president, vice president, and senators and representatives in Congress. General elections are held in even-numbered years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

open primary

A primary in which voters can vote for a party's candidates regardless of whether they belong to the party.

party-column ballot

A ballot (also called the Indiana ballot) that lists all of a party's candidates under the party label. Voters can vote for all of a party's candidates for local, state, and national offices by making a single "X" or pulling a single lever.

primary election

An election in which voters choose the candidates of their party, who will then run in the general election.

soft money

Campaign contributions not regulated by federal law, such as some contributions that are made to political parties instead of to particular candidates.

winner-take-all system

A system in which the candidate who receives the most votes wins. In contrast, proportional systems allocate votes to multiple winners.

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