POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

  • Absentee voting (also known as distance voting) is voting which occurs somewhere other than at the polling station.
  • An abstained vote is a form of exercising one's right to vote by which the voter decides neither to vote for nor against the motion in question.
  • An Act of Parliament is a piece of primary legislation which has been passed into law by Parliament.
  • Alternative vote is a preferential election system, where voters can rank candidates according to their preference.
  • An association's bylaws are essentially the constitution of the association.
  • Associations are organisations whose members share a common interest or work towards the same goal.
  • Authentication is the process and result of verification. Online voting is only possible for authenticated voters.
  • The ballot box election is a classic form of attendance voting where voting takes place directly in the polling station.
  • A ballot paper is an official document which voters use to cast their votes by indicating their preferences on it.
  • A block checksum ensures the safe transfer and storage of ballots in an online election
  • The BSI is a German national cyber security authority which has its main seat in Bonn.
  • The introduction and implementation of BSI standards is important for the functioning of IT risk management. The standards allow testing IT security and obtaining an IT security certificate.
  • Building societies are mutual financial organisations which offer a variety of financial services including loans or mortgages.
  • By-elections are held to fill vacancies which arise before the end of the legislative term.
  • Bylaws can be either local laws made by statutory bodies which apply only to specific local areas or rules drawn up by private organisations in order to regulate themselves.
  • CESG is the UK National Technical Authority for Information Assurance, including cryptography.
  • Common Criteria are internationally recognised security standards for the testing and assessment of IT products.
  • Community Benefit Society is a mutual institution, which has a community focus rather than a membership focus.
  • A constituency is a geographically defined area in which voters elect a representative to a legislative body such as a parliament.
  • Council elections (also known as local elections) take place in order to elect representatives to the UK's lowest tier of government - local government.
  • Credit unions are financial co-operatives which are owned by their members.
  • Data backups involve the production of (one or more) copies of data for the purpose of safe-guarding it in case of data loss.
  • Data protection (or 'data security') refers to protecting citizens' private, personal data from unauthorised use, transmission and storage, as well as protection from loss and damage of data.
  • Data security gives a level to which data is protected against unauthorised access, damage and accidental losses.
  • Devolution is the process by which a central government of a sovereign state cedes powers to a sub-national body, such as a region, state or local government.
  • A digital key consists of random strings, which combined with an algorithm, convert data into coded text.
  • Digital Single Market stands for a strategy for strengthening digital economy within the EU.
  • Direct elections are elections in which eligible voters cast their vote directly for the candidate, candidates or political party that they would like to be elected into office.
  • During an election campaign, candidates or parties compete for votes.
  • An election is a democratic procedure through which one or more persons are chosen as executives or representatives in certain bodies.
  • First past the post is the electoral system which is used in UK general elections.
  • Friendly societies are financial mutual institutions which are owned by their members. Thus, the board of directors is elected by the members.
  • General elections allow the people to vote for representatives who will sit in the House of Commons as members of parliament.
  • In-house elections is a classic form of direct vote casting in a poll site. There is also the option of in-house voting with voting devices.
  • Internet elections (also known as internet voting) comprise of various forms of electronic elections where the ballot paper is filled out digitally.
  • An invalid vote is a cast vote which is considered void.
  • IT risk management describes a catalogue of security measures from the BSI, for the purposes of protecting IT systems against various hazzards.
  • IT-Security means the confidentiality, integrity and availability of IT systems.
  • Law
    Laws come about in an intended constitutional legislative process due to an act of will by the legislation organs of a state.
  • A legal rule is an official, abstract and general directive, which substantiates legal regulations.
  • The legislative term is the period of time for which an elected official holds office.
  • In a list election several candidates are elected together 'en bloc' from the so-called election lists.
  • Local government is the lowest level of territorial government within a state.
  • Majority vote is an election system in which a candidate with the majority of votes wins the elections.
  • Mutuals are member organisations which operate for the benefit of their members and provide services to them.
  • Online polling describes a digital decision-making process
  • An online election is a legal election in which votes are cast over the Internet, free from space and time constraints.
  • Parliament is the primary law making body within the UK political system.
  • Parliamentary sovereignty means that parliament is superior to the executive and judicial branches of government, and can therefore enact or repeal any law it chooses.
  • Polls allow decision-making through vote casting
  • A polling card (also known as a poll card) provides information about the logistics of how and where people can vote in an election or referendum.
  • A polling station is a physical location where people go to cast their vote during an election or referendum.
  • A form of long-distance voting, not dependent on place or time of the ballot
  • Primary legislation is the highest form of legal rules in the UK.
  • The Prime Minister in the UK is the head of government and the most powerful member of the core executive.
  • A proportional vote is an election system where the seats are allocated to the proportion of the votes cast according to determined methods.
  • Proxy voting means having someone else cast your vote for you.
  • A referendum is a popular vote which expresses the will of the public with regard to a particular political issue.
  • Regulations are legal norms, issued by the executives.
  • A resolution is a decision an organisation makes to take a particular course of action.
  • Safe Harbour was a decision made by the EU Commission in order to protect personal data transfer in the USA.
  • Secondary legislation allows the Government to make changes to a law without needing to push through a completely new Act of Parliament
  • Staff council is the term for for works councils in public institutions.
  • Supplementary Vote is an election system in which voters rank candidates as first and second choice.
  • Voter turnout shows the percentage of eligible voters who actually cast a vote.
  • Electronic voting machines are special devices which are created for the electronic voting and elections used in the polling station.