How to choose a political party

Your state may give you the opportunity to declare your political party affiliation on your voter registration card.

You do not have to vote for the party you’re registered with, in a federal, state, or local general election.

But in a presidential primary or caucus, depending on your state’s rules, you may have to vote for the political party you’ve registered with.

Voting in Primary and Caucus Elections

States choose a candidate to run for president through primary elections, caucuses, or both. Depending on your state’s voting rules, your state’s primary or caucus elections can be open, closed, or a combination of both. The type of primary or caucus your state holds can affect your voting eligibility:

During an open primary or caucus, people can vote for a candidate of any political party.

During a closed primary or caucus, only voters registered with that party can take part and vote.

“Semi-open” and “semi-closed” primaries and caucuses are variations of the two main types.

Voting in the General Election

In the general election, you are eligible to vote for any candidate from any party. It doesn’t matter if you’re registered for a political party or whom you may have voted for in the past. You can vote in the general election even if you didn’t vote in your state’s primary or caucus.

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Party identification is typically determined by the political party that an individual most commonly supports.

Learning Objectives

Discuss the central features that make up party identification

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Party identification refers to the political party with which an individual identifies.
  • In the United States, political parties consist of three parts: the party as government, the party as organization, and the party as electorate.
  • Some researchers view party identification as “a form of social identity”, in the same way that a person identifies with a religious or ethnic group. This identity develops early in a person’s life mainly through family and social influences.
  • Those who consider themselves to be strong partisans, strong Democrats and strong Republicans respectively, tend to be the most faithful in voting for their party’s nominee for office.
  • The same level of voting behavior can also be applied to state and local levels. While straight ticket voting has declined among the general voting population, it is still prevalent in those who are strong Republicans and strong Democrats.

Key Terms

  • partisan: An adherent to a party or faction.
  • party identification: Party identification refers to the political party with which an individual identifies. Party identification is typically determined by the political party that an individual most commonly supports (by voting or other means).


Party identification refers to the political party with which an individual identifies. Party identification is typically determined by the political party that an individual most commonly supports (by voting or other means). In the United States, political parties consist of three parts: the party as government (members of the party who hold public office), the party as organization (committees, leaders and activists who work to promote the party and the candidates ), and the party as electorate (citizens who support the party through party identification).

Citizens in the general population who identify with a particular party make up the Party in the Electorate. Party identifiers (partisans) could be described by their support in the following ways:

  • They register as a member of the particular party when registered to vote.
  • They show a strong tendency to vote for candidates in their preferred party in most elections.
  • When surveyed, they identify themselves as members of that particular party.
  • They are inclined to support policies endorsed by the particular party.
  • They volunteer for campaigns to support party candidates more than the general population.
  • They have a higher voter turnout in primary elections than the general population.

Some researchers view party identification as “a form of social identity”, in the same way that a person identifies with a religious or ethnic group. This identity develops early in a person’s life mainly through family and social influences. This description would make party identification a stable perspective, which develops as a consequence of personal, family, social and environmental factors. Other researchers consider party identification to be more flexible and more of a conscious choice. They see it as a position and a choice based on the continued assessment of the political, economic and social environment. Party identification can increase or even shift by motivating events or conditions in the country.


Party Identification is characterized in three ways. Some view party attachment as a form of social identity, which is similar to a religious or ethnic identity. Moreover, childhood influence is one of main driving factors behind formation of party identification. During childhood, the main political influence comes from parents, other close family members and close surroundings such as the immediate community. Children remember events that happened during their childhood and associate them with the political party, whether or not they were connected with those events. For example, a child growing up in the 1970s would associate the Republican party with the Watergate scandal of the Nixon administration, a child growing up in the 1990s would associate the Democratic party with the sex scandal of the Clinton administration, or a child growing up in early 2000 would associate the Republican party with the Iraq War and the War on Terror. Although these parties might or might not embrace the issues that happened during that administration, a child could forever associate the party with those memorable events. Political Scientists have developed many theories to childhood influence on political party identification. David O. Sears developed a theory stating that major childhood events will influence a child at a young age and make a permanent impression.


Those people who identify with a party tend to vote for their party’s candidate for various offices in high percentages. Those who consider themselves to be strong partisans, strong Democrats and strong Republicans respectively, tend to be the most faithful in voting for their party’s nominee for office. In the case of voting for president, since the 1970s, party identification on voting behavior has been increasing significantly. By the late 1990s, party identification on voting behavior was at the highest level of any election since the 1950s. When voting in congressional elections, the trend is similar. Strong party identifiers voted overwhelmingly for their party’s nominee in the general election. It is important to note that each party respectively in certain elections, would have stronger voting behavior of their strongest party identifiers. For instance, in the years the Democrats dominated House and Senate elections in the 1970s and 1980s, it can be explained that their strong party identifiers were more loyal in voting for their party’s nominee for Congress than the Republicans were.

The same level of voting behavior can also be applied to state and local levels. While straight ticket voting has declined among the general voting population, it is still prevalent in those who are strong Republicans and strong Democrats. According to Paul Allen Beck and colleagues, “the stronger an individual’s party identification was, the more likely he or she was to vote a straight ticket. ”

How to choose a political party

Roll Call DNC: Those people who identify with a party tend to vote for their party’s candidate for various offices in high percentages. Those who consider themselves to be strong partisans, strong Democrats and strong Republicans respectively, tend to be the most faithful in voting for their party’s nominee for office.

Issue Voting

Issue voting is the process by which voters select candidates based on how closely their views on certain issues match the voter’s own.

Federal law confers benefits on party committees at the local, state and national levels, but only groups meeting specific criteria may take advantage of those benefits. The benefits of political party status apply only to organizations that qualify as political parties.

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Federal law

The federal campaign finance law defines “political party” as a committee or organization whose nominated or selected candidates for federal office appear on the ballot as the party’s candidates. However, ballot access is governed by state law.

Any organization that wants to become a political party should keep in mind federal campaign finance laws and regulations. First, national party committees may not accept or direct any funds outside the limits and prohibitions of federal law. Second, certain activity by state, district and local committees, termed federal election activity (FEA), is uniquely regulated. Third, party committees are restricted in how they may support certain tax exempt organizations. Finally, party committees meeting a certain financial threshold must register with the FEC and file regular financial reports.

While national party committees are not entitled to exemptions in the law that encourage grassroots activity, they have other advantages. They can make coordinated party expenditures on behalf of House, Senate and presidential nominees. Moreover, they have higher limits on the contributions they raise than other committees.

State law

The laws in each state determine when a political organization qualifies as a “political party” entitled to have its candidates’ names appear as party-designated candidates on the general election ballot. While the laws differ from state to state, they generally all require a nonmajor party to demonstrate sufficient voter support—such as by filing a petition for party recognition signed by a representative number of voters—in order to qualify for ballot access in the general election. Moreover, the party must receive a sufficient number of votes in the election in order to sustain its qualified status.

In nearly all states, a party can achieve limited recognition as a political party for a specific general election by being named as the organization represented by the candidate in his or her nominating petition. Contact the Secretary of State’s office (or equivalent office) in each state for specific information on achieving political party status under state law.

Qualifying as a national party committee

Federal law defines a national committee as an organization which, by virtue of the bylaws of a political party, is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the party at the national level, as determined by the Commission. A committee should seek an FEC advisory opinion (AO) to verify that it has attained national committee status before taking advantage of the expanded contribution and expenditure limits that apply to a qualified national committee. The Commission will decide whether the committee or the party has demonstrated sufficient national-level activity to qualify, based on the criteria listed below:

  • The party’s ballot access efforts must extend beyond the presidential races to races for the U.S. Congress. The party must have a sufficient number of party-designated federal candidates on the ballot in a sufficient number of states in different geographic areas to meet this requirement;
  • The committee must engage in activities such as voter registration drives on an ongoing basis (rather than with respect to a particular election);
  • A national committee must publicize, on a national basis, issues of importance to the party and its adherents such as through print or on a party website. This activity might involve publishing the party’s philosophy and positions, issuing press releases and distributing a national newsletter; and
  • Other factors which indicate that a party committee has attained national status include holding a national convention; setting up national headquarters; and establishing state party committees.

Qualifying as state party committee

A state party committee is the organization that by virtue of the bylaws of a political party or by the operation of state law is part of the official party structure and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of a political party at the state level, including any entity established, maintained, financed or controlled by the organization. Whether an organization qualifies as a state party committee is determined by the Commission. Committees desiring such a determination should submit an AO request to the Commission.

Three requirements must be met in order for a committee to qualify as a state party committee:

  • The committee must have at least one candidate for federal office whose name appears on the ballot as a candidate of the committee;
  • The committee must possess an official party structure;
  • The relationship between the political party and the committee must be based on an agreement that requires the committee to perform activities commensurate with the day-to-day operation of the party on a state level.

Qualifying as district or local party committee or subordinate committee

A district or local party committee is the organization that by virtue of the bylaws of a political party or by the operation of state law is part of the official party structure. It is responsible for the day-to-day operation of a political party at the level of city, county, neighborhood, ward, district, precinct or any other subdivision of a state.

A subordinate committee is a committee that operates in any subdivision of a state or is an organization under the control or direction of a state committee and is directly or indirectly established, financed, directed or controlled by a state, district or local committee.

To form a political party in Maryland, a group of voters must file a valid petition in a timely manner with the State Board of Elections. To retain party status, however, either the party’s candidate must poll 1% of the entire vote in the next general election, or at least 1% of the State’s registered voters must be affiliated with the party by year’s end (Code Election Law Article, sec. 4-103). If neither of these criteria are met, then the party must requalify with the State Board of Elections by petition.

In Maryland, provisions for recognition of political parties by the State Board of Elections are established by law. They are found in the Annotated Code of Maryland (Code Election Law Article, secs. 4-101 through 4-103).

As of January 2019, three political parties were recognized by the State Board of Elections: the Bread and Roses Party, the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party. The Americans Elect Party, the Constitution Party of Maryland, the Green Party, the Independent Party of Maryland, the Libertarian Party, the Populist Party, and the Reform Party no longer are recognized as political parties by the State Board.


State central committees evolved at the end of the nineteenth century as progressive reforms transformed the electoral process, and the procedure for voting came to be more closely regulated. When primary elections developed at the end of the nineteenth century, state central committees formed to oversee their conduct.* In 1886, legal provisions for primaries in Baltimore City were enacted. They were

    ” . . . to be held by any voluntary political association or party in the city of Baltimore for delegates to any managing convention, otherwise called City Convention, or to any nominating convention, or for the nomination of candidates for any state or municipal office . . . ” (Chapter 502, Acts of 1886)

Two years later, the General Assembly provided for primaries in Allegany County.

    ” . . . every political primary election held by any political party, organization or association, in Allegany County, for the purpose of choosing candidates for office, or the election of delegates to county conventions, shall be presided over and conducted by judges of election selected in the manner prescribed by the rules or regulations of the political party, organization or association holding such primary . . . ” (Chapter 181, Acts of 1888)

By 1892, responsibilities of a local state central committee were noted in a law defining procedures for Queen Anne’s County primary elections.

    “It shall be the duty of the Democratice State Central Committee to have the ballots prepared and to issue instructions as to the manner of marking and using the same. And it shall be the duty of the Democratic District Executive Committee to have posted the sample ballot at the polling place in their respective districts, at the opening of the polls.” (Chapter 508, Acts of 1892)

What later became public charges were intermingled with political party expenses.

    ” . . . the Democratic State Central Committee is authorized and empowered to assess and collect of the various candidates represented by the delegations to go on the ticket a sum sufficient to pay for preparation of ballots, room rent, and a fair per diem to judges and clerks . . .” (Chapter 508, Acts of 1892)

That same year, legislation outlining the primary process for Baltimore County referred to the state central committee as well.

    ” . . . polls shall be open for such time as may be prescribed by the State central committee or the county executive committee ordering said primary election, precinct meeting or other meeting.” (Chapter 261, Acts of 1892).

In recent times, an important function of state central committees has been to name those who will replace General Assembly members who have died, resigned, refused to act, or been disqualified, expelled, or removed from office (Chapter 584, Acts of 1935, ratified Nov. 3, 1936). Although the Governor makes the appointment to fill a vacancy in the General Assembly, the Governor must select the person nominated by the state central committee of the party with which the vacating legislator had been affiliated (Const., Art III, sec. 13).

*Some local jurisdictions had held primaries earlier, but the first statewide primary in Maryland was not held until August 30, 1910.

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Does your electoral law include a section that states regulation for political parties when choosing their party name and/or the printing of that name on a ballot?

  • does it regulate the number of characters used?
  • does it regulate bilingual names/the possibility of having a name in two languages or more/which language can be used?
  • does it state if the name of a party can be printed on more than one line on the ballot?
  • does it state rules regarding the choice of a name, the words used or other criteria that might lead to refusing the choice of name of a party by the electoral body (for example a name that would imply discrimination, racism, sexism, etc.).

Summary of Responses

Practitioners’ Network (PN) members shared various forms of legislation governing political party titles. However, several noted their electoral laws do not regulate how political parties choose their names, and election commissions and other national or local bodies can play a role in this process.

One PN member suggested that rules governing political party titles should be left out of laws voted by elected assemblies, and more efficiently covered by by-laws and regulations conferred on a state organization like an electoral commission. This is the case in both Canada and Quebec. Members also suggested other bodies can effectively regulate this process. For instance, a member from Burundi shared that names and signs for parties are filed with the Ministry of the Interior, which employs criteria for party names in the process of approving political parties. Party names must not threaten national unity. The same member also added that Burundi’s Election Code allows the EMB to intervene in situations directly affecting the electoral process, such as two parties using similar signs and potentially confusing voters.

In Wallonia (Belgium), one member shared the Code of Local Democracy and Decentralization (CDLD), entailing regulations on the number of characters and signs parties can use to represent themselves with in lists. Moreover, the code allows parties to request the Walloon Parliament to ban acronyms or logos that are protected (e.g. 2012 elections). In Switzerland there are no rules governing the printing of names on the ballot, as a member noted, and there there also no rules restricting discriminatory or offensive names, however it is punishable through the criminal code.

Finally, a few members suggested resources to further explore this question such as NDI’s ‘Political Parties and Democracy in Theoretical and Practical Perspectives: Adopting a Party Law’ (Page 15). Members also shared aspects of national electoral codes for the following countries: Ecuador (Article 316), Costa Rica (Article 28), and New Zealand.

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How to choose a political party

primary election, in the United States, an election to select candidates to run for public office. Primaries may be closed (partisan), allowing only declared party members to vote, or open (nonpartisan), enabling all voters to choose which party’s primary they wish to vote in without declaring any party affiliation. Primaries may be direct or indirect. A direct primary, which is now used in some form in all U.S. states, functions as a preliminary election whereby voters decide their party’s candidates. In an indirect primary, voters elect delegates who choose the party’s candidates at a nominating convention.

Indirect primaries for the presidency of the United States are used in many states. Voters in these elections generally select delegates who attend a national political convention and are bound and pledged to cast their ballots on the basis of the preferences of the voters. Delegates may be bound for only one convention ballot or until they are released by the candidate. In some states, the presidential preference vote is advisory and does not bind the delegates. Rules for selecting delegates are determined by the political parties and vary by state. Delegates can be selected on a winner-take-all basis—as in many Republican Party state primaries, in which the candidate who wins the most votes wins all the delegates at stake—or by proportional representation—as in the Democratic Party primaries, in which any candidate receiving a percentage of the votes above some threshold is entitled to at least one delegate. Allocating delegates by proportional representation makes it difficult for a candidate to build a delegate landslide out of a series of narrow primary victories, and Democratic presidential contests usually have taken longer to select a clear front-runner. In an attempt to enhance the power of Democratic party leaders and elected officials and to minimize the influence of the primaries, during the 1980s the Democratic Party created so-called “ superdelegates,” a group of unelected and unpledged delegates that included members of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic governors, and Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. However, in response to criticism of the influence of superdelegates in the 2016 nominating process, rule changes that limited their power were instituted in 2018.

How to choose a political party

The formal, legally regulated primary system is peculiar to the United States. The earliest method for nominating candidates was the caucus, which was adopted in colonial times for local offices and continued into the 19th century for state and national offices. Although the use of caucuses later declined, in the early 21st century a few states continued to use caucuses to choose presidential candidates. Party conventions were instituted as a means of checking the abuses of the caucus system but also became subject to abuses, which led first to their regulation and ultimately to their elimination for most offices except president and vice president. After 1890, mandatory regulations transformed the primary into an election that is conducted by public officers at public expense.

Although direct primaries were used as early as the 1840s, the primary system came into general use only in the early 20th century. The movement spread so rapidly that by 1917 all but four states had adopted the direct primary for some or all statewide nominations. For the presidential contest, however, primaries fell into disfavour and were generally used in fewer than 20 states until the 1970s, after which most states adopted primaries. Attention from the news media has increased the importance of presidential primaries to the point where success—especially in New Hampshire (which usually has held the first presidential primary) and in other early primaries—gives a candidate a great advantage in publicity and private campaign funding, whereas failure can end a campaign.

The merits of open versus closed primaries have been widely debated. Proponents of open primaries argue that voters should be able to choose which primary they will vote in at each election. Open primaries allow participation by independents unwilling to declare a party affiliation to vote and prevent intimidation of voters who wish to keep their affiliation private. Party organizations prefer closed primaries because they promote party unity and keep those with no allegiance to the party from influencing its choice, as happens in crossover voting, when members of rival parties vote for the weakest candidate in the opposition’s primary. Several states have adopted variations, including the mixed primary, which allows independents to vote in either party’s primary but requires voters registered with a political party to vote in their own party’s primary.

Following legal challenges (particularly by the Democratic and Republican parties), some variations were declared unconstitutional in the early 21st century. For example, for more than six decades, the state of Washington employed a blanket primary, which enabled voters to select one candidate per office irrespective of party affiliation, with the top vote getter from each party advancing to the general election. In 2003 the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Washington’s primary was unconstitutional, on the grounds that it violated a political party’s First Amendment right to freedom of association. Washington subsequently implemented a modified blanket system that was a nonpartisan contest in which voters could select one candidate per office, with the top two vote getters per office irrespective of party affiliation advancing to the general election; in 2008 this “top-two” system was declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2010 voters in California, which had earlier also been forced to abandon its blanket primary, endorsed a ballot initiative that established a system similar to that in Washington.

Although the formal primary system is peculiar to the United States, there are some parallels in other countries. For example, the Australian Labor Party has used a “preselection” ballot, in which candidates in each locality have been selected by party members in that locality from those offering themselves for the preselection vote. Some parties in Israel have also used primaries to select candidates for the Knesset.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Patricia Bauer.

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How to Participate in different elections

Presidential Preference Elections
Primary Elections

Arizona has an open primary provision. This means that Independent voters are still eligible to vote in the primaries!

General Elections

How to receive your ballot for the Primary Elections

How to request a ballot by mail
How to request a ballot at the polling location

Independent Voters FAQ

Can I request a non-partisan ballot?
Local jurisdictions (cities and towns) sometimes have non-partisan elections that can coincide with the statewide primary election. Independent voters who wish to vote in the statewide primary election, must choose either: A partisan ballot (Democratic or Republican)*. Partisan ballots also contain the non-partisan jurisdictional elections. Or, A non-partisan, jurisdictional only ballot. These ballots only contain the non-partisan, local jurisdiction election (such as a non-partisan City Council race).
Independent voters need to contact their county recorder’s office to make their selection.

*The Libertarian Party has a closed primary.

Can independent voters vote in the primary election?
Yes. Arizona has an Open Primary and voters that are not registered with a recognized political party (Independents) are able to request a partisan ballot. Who gets which ballot in a primary election?

Democratic Voter → Democratic Party Ballot
Libertarian Voter → Libertarian Party Ballot
Republican Voter → Republican Party Ballot
Independent Voter → Democratic OR Republican Party Ballot (may only choose one)*

*The Libertarian Party has a closed primary. Independent voters who vote by mail must contact their County Recorder to designate which partisan ballot they want mailed to them. Local, non-partisan ballots may be available. Check with your county recorder’s office.

Can I vote early in the primary?
Absolutely. If you are registered with a political party and on the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL), you will automatically receive a ballot in your mailbox. Independent voters, that are on PEVL, must contact their County Recorder to designate which partisan ballot (or potentially a non-partisan ballot if available) they would like to receive. Voters not on PEVL may make a one-time early ballot request or sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List, by contacting their county recorder’s office.

Many political parties have members elected to the Australian Parliament. In this fact sheet, learn more about how they are organised, coalitions of parties, party meetings and the history of political parties in Australia.

How to form a political party.

Parliamentary Education Office (

A political party is an organisation that represents a particular group of people or set of ideas. It aims to have members elected to Parliament so their ideas can affect the way Australia is governed.

Political party organisation

Parliamentary parties

A political party becomes a parliamentary party when it has party members elected to a parliament at the federal, state or territory level.

Parliamentary parties are powerful because their members work as a team and generally vote the same way on issues before the parliament.


A coalition is formed when 2 or more political parties join together. In any parliament, parties may form a coalition to create a bigger group and gain more power.

In the Australian Parliament, parties that form a coalition sit next to each other in the Senate and the House of Representatives. They generally vote the same way, although they may have different ideas on particular bills – proposed laws. Each party in a coalition usually holds separate party meetings.

A coalition that forms government may choose several ways of working together. For example:

  • the Prime Minister is usually drawn from the larger party
  • the Deputy Prime Minister is usually drawn from the smaller party
  • ministries may be shared between the 2 parties according to the ratio of seats held by the 2 parties.

The Liberal Party of Australia and the Nationals have formed the longest-running coalition in the Australian Parliament.

Minor parties

Minor parties only have a small number of members elected to Parliament. They may form part of the government or the opposition through a coalition or agreement with another party. If this is not the case, they sit with the independents on the seats that curve around at the end of the Senate and House. These seats are often called the crossbenches.

Party meetings

The main purpose of party meetings is to decide how the party will work as a team in Parliament. In party meetings, members of parliament may:

  • elect office-holders such as the party leader, ministers and the whips
  • debate and make decisions about party policy
  • discuss tactics and organise party members to speak on particular bills
  • resolve potential conflict and differences of opinion to ensure party unity.

Party meetings are only for party members and are confidential.

When not in Parliament, political parties also hold branch meetings. These meetings are generally open to all members of the party, as well as members of the public who are interested in becoming involved.


How to form a political party.

How to choose a political party

Parliamentary Education Office (


This graphic shows the steps required to form a political party: register with the Australian Electoral Commission, have at least 500 members, and write a party constitution.

Copyright information

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You are free to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work.

Attribution – you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

Non-commercial – you may not use this work for commercial purposes.

No derivative works – you may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.

Tom Quinn does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


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How to choose a political party

The Conservatives’ convincing victory in the general election has simplified the post-election arithmetic in parliament. There will be no coalitions or minority administrations and so the Conservatives’ principal opponents are no longer relevant to the government-formation process.

Their defeats in the election call into question their strategies and as is usually the case these days, when that happens, the person at the top pays the price. The Labour leader Ed Miliband, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, and Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, have all announced their resignations.

Leadership elections in these three parties raise the question of how they choose their leaders. All now use a form of all-member postal ballots, although there are differences between them.

New rules for the Labour Party

Labour previously used an electoral college of MPs/MEPs, party members and trade unionists to choose its leaders, including Ed Miliband in 2010. However, it switched to a form of all-member ballots in 2014, although the system has not yet been used and questions remain about its operation. Individual party members will be entitled to vote, but so will two new categories of participant.

How to choose a political party

The first is affiliated supporters, which consist of individual trade unionists who have indicated that they wish their party affiliation fees (funded from the political levy, a small sum of money in addition to normal union dues and used for political campaigning) to be paid directly to the Labour Party rather than via their trade unions as they have historically been. This requirement for positive consent is a change: trade unionists were previously automatically entitled to vote in Labour leadership elections.

The second is registered supporters, who are not members of the party but support its principles. On the payment of a small registration fee (the level of which has not yet been decided), they too could vote in leadership elections. They would need to sign a statement affirming their support for Labour’s values. There would be no separate sections in the ballot: the votes of party members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters would all count for exactly the same in a single national ballot. MPs would not have weighted votes but would participate in their capacity as individual party members.

Labour candidates must be MPs and each would need to be nominated by 15% of Labour MPs (approximately 35 on current forecasts). The alternative vote (AV) electoral system would be used, where voters rank the candidates in order. To win, a candidate must secure 50% + 1 votes. If no-one achieves that after counting first preferences, the lowest-ranked candidate drops out and his/her votes are reallocated to their stated second preferences. The process continues until someone passes the winning threshold.

Great uncertainty surrounds Labour’s system because it has never been used. How many trade unionists have thus far signed up as affiliated supporters? Less than 10% of trade unionists participated in the 2010 contest – and that was despite not having to take any further action than completing the ballot papers they received in the post.

The unions might run campaigns to convert members into affiliated supporters but it is not clear how many would be interested. And how many registered supporters would sign up? This category creates the possibility of a primary election for the party leadership, but there is no indication of how appealing that would be to non-party members. It is possible, though not certain, that the selectorate could consist mainly of existing party members.

Lib Dems – a sense of proportion

The Liberal Democrats have used all-member ballots to choose their leaders since the party was formed from the merger of the Liberals and the Social Democratic Party in 1988. Candidates for the leadership must be MPs and they must be proposed by 10% of Liberal Democrat MPs – not including themselves.

How to choose a political party

Since the Lib Dems are predicted to win just eight seats, that means each candidate will require one other nomination. Candidates must also be nominated by at least 200 individual party members from at least 20 local constituency parties. If only one nominee emerges, he or she will become the leader without a ballot.

If more than one candidate comes forward, a ballot of party members will take place, lasting up to two months. MPs can vote in their capacity as individual members, but their votes are not worth any more than those of ordinary activists. Hustings take place across the country and a postal ballot is held. The AV electoral system is used, with the winning candidate needing to secure 50% + 1 votes on first- or lower preferences.

UKIP – need not be an MP

UKIP’s leader is chosen in a similar way but with a different electoral system. Candidates need not be MPs but must be proposed and assented to by 50 party members of good standing, drawn from at least 10 local associations. If only one candidate is nominated, he or she will become leader. If two or more candidates emerge, they will go through to an all-member postal ballot conducted under first-past-the-post. That means there is no need to win 50% + 1 votes, but only the largest single share of votes.

In each of the three parties, an interim leader is possible, to hold the fort until a leadership election has taken place.

The Labour leadership election will almost certainly be contested by two or more candidates. It is not clear whether the same will happen in the Liberal Democrat party, where a coronation, perhaps of Tim Farron, could be more likely. Meanwhile, Farage has already hinted he would consider standing as a candidate in the UKIP contest later in the summer. The general election may be over, but politics as usual continues.

Call 1-877-THE-VOTE or 602-542-8683. Please note there may be a delay in responding to calls and emails.

La respuesta de la División Electoral a COVID-19 – Suspendiendo temporalmente todos los servicios en persona, mientras manteniendo las responsabilidades constitucionales y legales

Elections Response »

  • Nuestro objetivo número uno es mantener al público y a nuestros empleados seguros
  • La situación relacionada con COVID-19 se está desarrollando rápidamente, al igual que la respuesta de esta oficina y del estado. Por favor, revise este sitio web frecuentemente para actualizaciones
  • Estamos dedicados a continuar nuestros servicios mientras reduciendo los riesgos de exposición
  • Estamos cumpliendo con las obligaciones de estatutario. Estamos procesando presentaciones de cabildeo y financiamiento de campañas, solicitudes de circuladores y respondiendo a consultas relacionadas con estos temas. La información de contacto es la siguiente: [email protected] (el enlace para mandar un correo electronico), [email protected] o [email protected]
  • El equipo de Servicios Electorales esta disponible para responder al registro de votantes y preguntas relacionadas con las elecciones. La forma más rápida de recibir una respuesta es enviando un correo electrónico a: [email protected]
  • Las solicitudes de registros públicos también se están cumpliendo, sin embargo, puede tardar más de lo habitual en procesarse.

Los servicios impactados »

  • No tendremos servicios en persona disponibles hasta nuevo aviso.
    • Solicitud de presentación de candidatos o iniciativas
      • Los dos tipos de presentaciones se pueden mandar por correo a nuestra oficina:

      1700 W. Washington St., séptimo piso

      Los Servicios que están disponibles en línea o por teléfono »

      • Asistencia en preparando para presentar la documentación de la nominación de candidatos
        • Visitando la página de Presentación del candidato o mandando un correo electrónico a [email protected]
        • Visite nuestro Portal para circuladores o por correo electrónico: [email protected]
        • Mande un correo electrónico a [email protected] con cualquier preguntas
        • Visite Beacon o mande un correo electrónico a [email protected]
        • Visite el Portal de cabildeo o mande un correo electrónico a [email protected]
        • Visit My.Arizona.Vote or email [email protected]
        • Visite My.Arizona.Vote o mande un correo electrónico a [email protected]
        • Complete el forme y entréguelo

        Llame al 1-877-THE-VOTE o 602-542-8683. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que puede haber un retraso en la respuesta a las llamadas. Mande un correo electrónico para una respuesta más rápida.

        Recognized Political Parties

        In Arizona’s 2022 Election Cycle, the following political parties meet the requirements for continued statewide representation: Democratic Party, Libertarian Party, and Republican Party. No new parties submitted applications for recognition this cycle.

        Democratic Party

        Contact Information:
        2910 N. CENTRAL AVE.
        PHOENIX, AZ 85012

        PHONE: 602-298-4200
        E-MAIL: [email protected]
        FAX: 602-298-7117

        Libertarian Party

        Contact Information:
        24 W. CAMELBACK RD., STE. A-491
        PHOENIX, AZ 85013

        PHONE: 833-843-2957

        Republican Party

        Contact Information:
        3501 N. 24TH ST.
        PHOENIX, AZ 85016

        PHONE: 602-957-7770
        E-MAIL: [email protected]

        New Political Parties

        Under Arizona law, a new political party may become eligible for recognition and be represented by an official party ballot at the next ensuing regular primary election upon filing the requisite number of petition signatures with the Secretary of State. New political parties are entitled to representation on the official ballot through the next two regularly scheduled general elections for federal office.

        1. Register a Committee
        2. Submit Statement of Organization to Secretary of State
        3. Circulate Petitions
        4. Submit Petitions along with the affidavit of 10 qualified electors
        5. Secretary of State verifies signatures

        Signature Requirements for New Party Recognition

        In order to be recognized for Federal, Statewide, and Legislative races in the 2022 Primary and General Elections, an aspiring political party must submit to the Secretary of State a minimum of 31,686 valid signatures no later than Friday, November 26, 2021 at 5:00pm. For further guidance on the creation of a New Party, refer to Chapter 15 of the 2019 Elections Procedures Manual.

        Appointments are required for new party petition filings. Email [email protected] to request an appointment a minimum of two weeks in advance of your preferred date.

        Please contact your County Recorder’s Office if you wish to apply for county-level recognition.

        State law allows for Third-Party Registration Agents to assist persons to register to vote (Section 1-4-49, NMSA 1978). These agents must attend a training and register with the Secretary of State’s Office. They can proof the validity of their third party registration agent status by showing you their notarized ‘Voter Registration Agent Identification Form.’

        I have an unlisted phone number. Do I have to provide that information on the voter registration form?

        • No, however, it does come in handy if the Secretary of State or County Clerk need to contact you in the event there is an issue concerning the processing of your registration. If you have an unlisted phone number and you are willing to provide that number, simply check “No” next to the phone number and we will not disclose that number to anyone else.

        How do I know that my voter registration application form was received and processed?

        • You can check your registration status at any time using our My Registration Information tool:
        • Once the county clerk has processed your registration form, they will send confirmation of your registration by mail in the form of a voter information card. Once you receive the card, please review it to make certain there are no errors in the spelling of your name, your address or your political party affiliation. The time it takes to process your voter registration application varies from county to county and depends on whether the registration books are closed due to an upcoming election. Please contact your county clerk if you have any questions about your registration being processed.

        Will I be notified if there is a problem with my registration form?

        • ​Yes. If the form you submit is missing information that prevents your registration, you will be notified by a letter sent to the address on the registration form. That letter is sent within ten days or less from receipt of your form. The letter will specify what the problem with your registration form is and will include a new registration form or other instructions on how to correct the situation.

        What happens if I register to vote after registration closes (within 28 days of an election)?

        • If you register to vote after registration has closed, the county clerk will still accept your voter registration application but it will not be processed until the thirty-five (35) days after the election.

        Can I register to vote if I have been convicted of a crime?

        • If you have been convicted of a felony, you can register to vote once you have completed the court-ordered sentence of imprisonment, including any term of parole or probation for the conviction. This provision includes federal, state and out-of-state convictions. You may be asked to provide a certification or affidavit of completion from probation and parole or the court system in order for the County Clerk to determine that all sentencing requirements have been satisfied prior to processing the voter registration.

        How can I determine if I qualify to have my voting rights restored following a felony conviction?

        You should contact the Department of Corrections, Division of Parole and Probation (505.827.8830) or a comparable agency in the state in which you were convicted.

        What are the currently qualified political parties in New Mexico?

        Major Parties

        • Democratic Party of New Mexico
        • Republican Party of New Mexico
        • Libertarian Party of New Mexico

        In New Mexico, only major political party candidates will appear on the Primary Election ballot. The three major political parties are the New Mexico Democratic Party, the New Mexico Republican Party and the Libertarian Party of New Mexico.

        Minor Parties (Qualified Political Parties in New Mexico)

        • New Mexico Working Families Party

        Qualified minor party candidates may appear on the General Election ballot and are nominated for office pursuant to the party rules on file with the Secretary of State and pursuant to NMSA 1978 §§ 1-8-2 and 1-8-3.

        Any person wishing to represent the people of the Netherlands in the House of Representatives has to stand for election. People can join a political party or set up a new one on their own, but this is not necessary. Both political parties and individuals can take part in the elections by submitting a list of candidates.



        Universal suffrage was introduced in the Netherlands in 1919. Every Dutch national aged 18 or over now has the right to vote, as well as the right to stand for election as a member of the House of Representatives. The Constitution grants every Dutch citizen these rights.


        Every Dutch national shall have an equal right to elect the members of the general representative bodies and to stand for election as a member of those bodies, subject to the limitations and exceptions prescribed by Act of Parliament.


        Most people who want to become MPs will join one of the existing political parties. A political party is a group of people who have roughly the same ideas about how to rule the country, for instance ideas about what is best for the environment or for education. Together with their party they will campaign for their ideas. Not everyone has the same ideas, so there are several different political parties. There are also people who decide to set up a new political party on their own. It is also possible to stand for election without being a member of a political party. Anyone wishing to stand for election has to apply to the Electoral Council.

        The Elections Act

        The Elections Act prescribes the election procedures and the necessary preparations.

        Voter registration card

        Every municipality is required to maintain an electoral register of the residents of the municipality who are eligible to vote. At least fourteen days before polling day, each person eligible to vote will receive a voter registration card and a list of the political parties and their candidates who are participating in the elections. At least four days before polling day the voters receive a list of candidates. These lists are also published in the newspapers.

        Electoral districts and polling districts

        The Netherlands is divided into nineteen electoral districts for the purpose of organising the country’s elections. These districts are subdivided into polling districts. Most political groupings participating in the elections will do so in all the electoral districts. The votes cast for a specific political party in the various electoral districts are added up. In each electoral district there is a principal electoral office. The polling stations submit their polling results to the principal electoral committee, which in its turn submits the information to the Central Electoral Office in The Hague. The latter determines the overall result of the election.

        The electoral system

        The way in which the members of the House of Representatives are elected is called the electoral system. Since 1917, the Netherlands has had an electoral system of proportional representation. The more people who cast their votes for a party, the more MPs this party will have in the House of Representatives. This system makes it possible for many smaller political parties to be represented in Parliament as well. The composition of the House of Representatives largely represents the different political preferences in the country

        How to choose a political party

        In a well-functioning democracy, we should expect political parties to select candidates that best represent the interests of voters. Yet, as this column has previously demonstrated, Members of Parliament (MPs) leave a lot to be desired when it comes to serving these interests.

        For instance, wealthier candidates are associated with poorer parliamentary attendance and spending on constituency development — all the more worrying as the scale of wealth has grown significantly in Indian electoral politics. If parties are not selecting candidates for the purposes of representativeness, what criteria are used to select candidates?

        Whether at the state or national level, party tickets for candidates are typically decided by a few party elites — a phenomenon political scientists describe as “low intraparty democracy.” The centralised nature of making laws in the Lok Sabha, combined with the fact that MPs are barred from “defecting” against their own party when voting in parliament, almost nullifies any institutional role they can play in policymaking.

        But if MPs are largely excluded from the policymaking process, then parties have little incentive to select candidates that represent the interests of voters. Furthermore, there is little sense in expecting voters to vote for candidates based on how well they represent the interests of voters — it’s the party as a whole that must be held accountable.

        On the other hand, any serious political party aims to be in power, so the “winnability” of a candidate (namely the capacity to self-finance a campaign) is an important determinant in choosing candidates. We find ourselves in a scenario in which most candidates are selected neither for their ideological commitment to a party, nor for the extent to which they seek to represent the interests of voters — they are chosen because they can win elections. Because candidates may trade their own capacity to win elections for party tickets, and have little role in policymaking, they have little reason to be deeply committed to any political party.

        The issue of candidate selection is fundamental to understanding Indian politics. Unfortunately, there exists no systematic data on how parties choose to hand out tickets to the candidates — as parties are understandably unwilling to let outsiders observe their selection processes.

        • An individual from the pool of candidates in 2009 was classified as “renominated” if he or she received at least 20% voteshare in 2014 (i.e., renominated for a consequential party ticket). An analysis was undertaken to understand which background characteristics for the pool of candidates in 2009 are associated with renomination.
        • Data on electoral outcomes for 2009 and 2014 are provided in a user-friendly format by the Trivedi Centre for Political Data (TCPD) at Ashoka University. The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) provides electronic data on publicly declared affidavits upon filing for public candidature, which has details of the wealth, pending serious criminal cases, and educational background of almost every candidate. After making appropriate restrictions, the study ended up with a pool of 1020 candidates in 2009 for the analysis (480 of whom were elected).
        • Candidate filings are far from systematic from election to election (even names don’t match across filings), so an approximation algorithm was used to detect which candidates were renominated.
        • In order to isolate the relationship of these characteristics to renomination rates, a statistical model was used to simultaneously estimate the probability of renomination as a function of the MP’s, pending serious criminal cases, level of education, moveable asset wealth, political party, and home state.

        To get some sense of candidate selection, this analysis looks at candidates who contested the 2009 election and received at least 20% vote share (irrespective of whether they won or lost) – a universe of 1020 candidates — and classifies whether they received a party ticket again in the 2014 election.

        Only 354 of the 1020 candidates in the sample, approximately 35%, were re-nominated in 2014. The data demonstrates that the winnability of a candidate is indeed a strong factor in renomination.

        A candidate that was elected in 2009 had a 53% chance of being renominated, while a candidate that did not win the election in 2009 had only a 19% chance of being renominated.

        But renomination and incumbency are two very different phenomena, as winning is far from a sure thing upon renomination — even if a candidate won in 2009 and was re-nominated, he or she only had a 50% chance of winning again in 2014. The data also demonstrates that candidates are quite fickle in their partisan loyalties. About 12% of those renominated switched parties between 2009 and 2014 (with 23% of unelected candidates in 2009 switching parties upon renomination).

        To understand how the background characteristics of MPs affected renomination rates, the analysis focused on three important characteristics: the moveable wealth of the candidate, which is important for financing campaigns; the existence of serious criminal cases pending because criminality is correlated with organizational capacity of the candidate; and whether the candidate has a post-graduate degree, which potentially describes a candidates capacity to do the job.

        A statistical model that measured the chances of renomination of a candidate as a function of these three characteristics (wealth, criminal cases, education) provided some interesting results.

        The model suggests that a candidate that has a postgraduate degree is about 28% more likely to be renominated as compared to a candidate without one, and a candidate with serious pending cases is 27% more likely to be renominated as compared to a candidate without them (see chart 2).

        How to choose a political party

        A similar relationship is seen with wealth. A candidate with between Rs 10 and 50 lakh in moveable wealth has about a 34% probability of being renominated, while a crorepati (in terms of moveable wealth) is about 14% more likely to be renominated (see chart1).

        How to choose a political party

        Further statistical analysis suggests that the positive relationship between renomination and wealth and criminality is due to the fact that those characteristics are associated with greater electability.

        Clearly, the institutional structure generates incentives for parties to select candidates who do not represent the interests of voters — rather focusing on those candidates more able to win elections. With the growing costs of elections, and little ideological integrity to parties, we can only expect a greater disconnect between voters and their representatives in the future.

        So it is General Election time. NDTi is a non-party political organisation. We exist to promote a society where all people, regardless of age or disability, are valued and able to live the life they choose. We believe that all people should have choice and control over their own lives, that their human rights be respected and that they are valued as equals.

        How to choose a political party

        At the risk of ‘stating the bleeding obvious’ the capacity to achieve these things is significantly driven by how the government of the day approaches its responsibilities. We cannot and will not say which Party might do that most effectively, but we can certainly highlight the issues that are important and which we hope voters will pay particular attention to. Here is my take on that.

        I’m going to steer totally clear of Brexit – even if the election is significantly about that – and definitely not getting into questions of leadership competence (though applying some of the content of our leadership programme would flash up clear warning signs about some politicians). Instead, I’m suggesting five areas where the views of candidates and Parties merit particular scrutiny before an X is put in any box.

        1. Funding for social care

        I nearly steered clear of this one as well – but you can’t. The system is more than creaking under the strain. Demand is increasing with knock-on effects on the NHS. We are in what has to be called a crisis and throwing more money at social care will not resolve it. Dilnot, despite its positive reception when published, appears to be past history. We need a comprehensive, bi-partisan review of social care, which doesn’t just look at funding, but also asks how the funding model and levels will address my next four points – rights, inclusion, voice and poverty.

        Hustings Question: How should the funding and operating model of social care change so that people experience better life outcomes as a result of the work of the social care system?

        2. Promotion and protection of human rights

        The people whose lives NDTi is most concerned with often face threats to their rights, with their life chances constrained by the attitudes of others in society. Our human rights framework exists to provide leverage to address those negative attitudes. The legislation needs not only to continue, but also be backed up by positive action and support from government, the public sector, businesses, communities and others.

        Hustings Question: Do You support the Human Rights Act and our continued membership of the European Convention on Human Rights? If not, which rights do you propose we no longer need?

        3. Commitment to inclusion

        Whether that be separate special schools for children, so-called assessment and treatment units for people with learning disabilities or large-scale residential and nursing care for older people, the way in which we support and care for many people is still based on segregation. Operating in a way that enables people to live life in the community, alongside family and peers, should be the starting point for public services.

        Hustings Question: What changes do you propose making to ensure that disabled children and adults and older people receive services and support in ways that mean they are able to live their lives as full members of society and not be confined to segregated services?

        4. Putting the voice of people at the centre

        The Brexit debate opened up the question of whether we can trust experts, but the one set of experts we absolutely should be listening to are experts by experience, i.e. those with experience of living with a disability or the experience of ageing. Ten years ago, it was becoming the norm that people should always be involved in discussions about their lives and services – but that momentum has significantly been lost. National funding for representative bodies has been cut and there has never really been a strong national voice of some interest groups (for example older people).

        Hustings Question: What action should be taken to ensure that the voices of disabled and older people are central to decision making about their lives and the services that they need?

        5. Poverty

        There is an undeniable connection between disability and poverty and between being a carer and poverty. The employment levels of disabled people are unacceptably low. If you are a carer, it is often impossible to be able to work. There are often additional costs associated with having a disability or ill-health or being a carer. The benefits system is part (but only part) of the answer to this challenge. Poverty is a real issue facing the people that NDTi works for. Services and support are important, but addressing poverty could have a more long-lasting impact.

        Hustings Question: What steps do you propose to take to address the clear evidence of how disabled people and carers are disproportionately living in poverty?

        These are intentionally broad ‘big picture’ questions. Whilst specific policy commitments are important (though we know they are often ignored post-election), I would suggest that the general attitudes towards people at risk of societal exclusion that politicians will bring to their role are far more important. My questions are intended to help surface people’s underpinning mind-sets that will, amongst other things, determine how they will address new issues that arise during a term in office.

        When it comes to June 8th, NDTi’s staff, Associates and Board will no doubt cast their votes in a number of different ways (a quick canvass has already identified support for four different political parties). I am sure though, that the answers to questions like these will be driving our individual decisions as we enter the polling booth.

        Voters can choose their party during primary, but they must stick with that party in runoff, according to election code

        Get more election news on KSAT’s Vote 2022 page.

        Though most of the 2022 midterm primary races in Texas were called on Tuesday night, several candidates across the state will have to wait until May to learn their political fate.

        In Texas, candidates must win more than 50% of the vote to be declared the winner, which can be difficult in crowded primary races. In races where a candidate failed to clear that threshold, the top two contenders advance to a runoff, slated for May 24.

        With some notable runoffs on both Democratic and Republican ballots, including the attorney general’s race, some voters may be wondering if they can switch up political parties during the runoff.

        Because the state operates under open primaries, voters can choose which party’s primary they’d like to vote in. According to Texas election laws, however, voters must stick with the same party during the runoff.

        “A person who is affiliated with a political party is ineligible to become affiliated with another political party during the same voting year,” the election code states.

        If a voter does attempt to switch parties and cast a ballot in the runoff, that vote would be voided, according to the laws.

        Voters who did not cast a ballot during the primary would be deemed unaffiliated with either political party. Because of that, they can choose to vote in either party’s runoff, even though they did not vote during the initial primary.

        The deadline to register to vote in the runoff is April 25. You can check your registration status here.

        Early voting will take place for one week ahead of the runoff, from May 16 through May 20.

        The Green Party aims to create a just, equitable and sustainable society. We focus our efforts primarily, though not exclusively, through the electoral system.

        The Green Party is a democratic organisation in which our members decide our policy, opening up politics to those outside the Westminster Establishment. Our members come from all walks of life; most of them are not professional politicians, but each of them can have a voice in how our policies are written, updated and amended.

        Thus, uniquely for any Westminster Party, you can directly affect this Policy Process by becoming a member.

        This policy process produces an organic and evolving document (known as Policies for a Sustainable Society or PSS) that reflects current priorities and principles. Our PSS changes twice a year as a result of our democratic process – the Spring and Autumn conferences of the Green Party are the supreme policy making body.

        For each General and European election we produce a manifesto – this sets out our immediate priorities and policy goals that Green representatives would pursue for the term of that Parliament. Each manifesto is based on our PSS and is prepared through an agreed consultative process within the Party.

        What’s on this website

        This site is a record of our policies built up over the last 40 years of the Party’s existence.

        Our Principles

        This section is in two parts; a short statement of our Core Values , and a longer explanation, called the Philosophical Basis , of the underlying thinking and motives behind our policies.

        Policy Statements

        Our Policy Statements are contained within two main sections, Policies for a Sustainable Society (PSS) and the Record of Policy Statements (RoPS).

        Policies for a Sustainable Society (PSS) are arranged in chapters of varying length covering different topic areas. They represent the long term goals of the party and are available through the menu of links on the right of this page.

        Each subject chapter contains the policies agreed and amended at successive Green Party conferences. These detailed policies are explained and illustrated from time to time in election manifestos, news releases, topical comment and reports. Both national and local policy objectives are derived from PSS.

        The Record of Policy Statements consists of short term positions and responses to particular current circumstances. These statements do not override the vision contained in the full set of Policies for a Sustainable Society

        Canada’s election candidates are largely ignored, and Canadian democracy is worse for it. A federal campaign is comprised of roughly 2,000 people across the country who put their names on the ballot in one of 338 electoral districts. We seldom hear about how these brave souls competing to become members of Parliament intend to resist becoming representatives of party interests, or whether they have opinions that differ from their parties, or what their policies are on local issues.

        The perceived relevance of electing a local representative has been in decline for decades, and it is getting worse. In the years after Confederation, voters wanted fierce defenders of local interests who could provide access to the spoils of office such as government jobs. A candidate’s residency or occupation, not their party, was listed on the ballot. Candidates were elected based on their own recognizance, and some MPs picked a party after the election to maximize their bargaining power. Parliament was filled with personalities and characters who kept party leaders on their toes, and who weren’t afraid to take a public stand to advocate for their constituents.

        As political parties formalized, election candidates increasingly publicized their party affiliations during election campaigns. Celebrating party ties became a problem when aspiring candidates were unsuccessful in their attempt to become a party’s official candidate and nevertheless still proclaimed their partisanship on election campaign signs and brochures. There was also some confusion in differentiating two candidates with the same name in an electoral district.

        Reforms to the Canada Elections Act that took effect in the 1972 federal election addressed this by adding party labels to the election ballot and requiring that the party leader sign a candidate’s nomination forms. But reducing confusion for voters came at the cost of marginalizing their local representatives in favour of party supremacy.

        The changes to the Elections Act fuelled the growing importance of political parties and their leaders. The ability of a leader to veto a candidate’s nomination put the fear of complicity into incumbents hoping to seek re-election, and it has spurred allegations of central interference in local democratic processes to select a candidate.

        Today, MPs might be told that their re-nomination is in jeopardy unless they fundraise and recruit new supporters, and anyone competing in a nomination contest must first be vetted by party agents. A party’s leadership circle routinely rejects applications from aspiring candidates without having to publicly disclose the reasons why.

        In the lead-up to an election, political operatives run candidate training schools to teach candidates what to expect and how to conduct themselves. This includes emphasizing the importance of staying on message and never contradicting the party leader. On the campaign trail, candidates can be shocked to learn that they are expected to stand behind the leader as applauding cheerleaders who say nothing, or that they must publicly support policies they oppose. They might even be instructed by the party to skip all-candidates debates or ignore media requests to avoid becoming a distraction.

        Nowadays candidates and MPs have very little involvement in shaping a party’s election platform. The people in the leader’s circle prioritize responding to public opinion research by segmenting the electorate into slivers of like-minded supporters, and by deploying the latest marketing tactics. The leader’s entourage seems to want candidates to behave as avatars of policies announced by the leader.

        Little wonder that political parties, leaders and media have so little interest in candidates and MPs. On election day, evaluation of local candidates accounts for an estimated 4 per cent of the vote, which makes the difference in winning or losing in about 10 per cent of electoral districts. In 2019, just 125 people ran as independents or with no affiliation, and former Liberal minister Jody Wilson-Raybould became the first independent elected since 2008 – the only woman to do so since 1972. Canadians vote for a local representative in the House of Commons, yet few prioritize who their MP is and what that person does over the MP’s party affiliation.

        How did Canadian democracy get here? Can we do better? The intensification of party discipline can be traced to the government gaining more authority as rules of debate tightened in the House of Commons. Since the Second World War, Canadian MPs have routinely toed the party line on bills and motions. The control of party leaders and their agents is so confining that party discipline has evolved into message discipline, with MPs often applying social pressure on each other to maintain group cohesiveness.

        Social media gave MPs a digital megaphone, but it also provided a mechanism for the leader’s agents to distribute approved messaging, and to monitor what party representatives are saying. In an election candidates are treated by their parties as little more than brand ambassadors, expected to trumpet the message of the day and to collect data about supporters who can be mobilized to vote and donate.

        Canada needs politicians who build an image of being willing to stand up for their constituents. Federal election candidates need to know it is possible to speak up about localized issues that don’t interfere with the national campaign. Politicians of all political stripes can call on the government to do better, and to do more for their ridings. They can inspire voters to care about who becomes their MP instead of merely voting for a party robot. Engaging in local advocacy and occasionally rebuffing the party would help give media, political parties and voters a reason to pay attention to local representatives.

        Most importantly, candidates who carve out their own identity during an election campaign can maintain that sense of self when they get to Ottawa, and gain confidence to push back against their parties’ leadership. The Parliament of Canada and Canadian democracy will be better for it.

        Party message discipline can only be strong if Canada’s politicians are willing to put up with it.

        This article is part of the How can we improve the elections process special feature.

        National and provincial elections

        In South Africa we use a PR system to vote for parliament and provincial legislatures. Parliament has 400 seats and each of the nine provincial legislatures has between 30 and 90 seats depending on the number of people who live in the province.

        Provincial and national elections are held together and have to take place every five years. Voters vote for the national and provincial legislatures on separate ballot papers.

        The elections are run by an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) who administers every part of the elections to ensure that they are free and fair. All registered political parties are represented on a Party Liaison Committee that gives advice to, and gets information from the IEC

        Before the elections political parties draw up a list of candidates for each of the legislatures they wish to contest. For the national assembly, parties can submit half their candidates on a national list and half on provincial lists. When the results are announced the IEC works out how many people from each party list should take up seats in the legislatures.

        Local elections (municipal)

        There are three different categories of municipalities in South Africa and they have slightly different electoral systems.

        Metropolitan municipalities (Category A):

        Metropolitan municipalities exist in the six biggest cities in South Africa. They have more than 500 000 voters and the metropolitan municipality co-ordinates the delivery of services to the whole area. There are metropolitan municipalities in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Ethekweni (Durban), Tshwane (Pretoria), Nelson Mandela (Port Elizabeth) and the Ekhuruleni (East Rand). These municipalities are broken into wards. Half the councillors are elected through a proportional representation ballot, where voters vote for a party. The other half are elected as ward councillors by the residents in each ward.

        Local municipalities (Category B):

        Areas that fall outside of the six metropolitan municipal areas are divided into local municipalities. There are a total of 231 of these local municipalities and each municipality is broken into wards. The residents in each ward are represented by a ward councillor. Voters in these municipalities also vote for district councils.
        Half the local councillors are elected through a proportional representation ballot, where voters vote for a party. The other half are elected as ward councillors by the residents in each ward.

        Only people who live in low population areas, like game parks, do not fall under local municipalities. The areas are called district management areas (DMA) and fall directly under the district municipality.

        District municipalities (Category C):

        District municipalities are made up of a number of local municipalities that fall in one district. There are usually between 4 – 6 local municipalities that come together in a district council and there are 47 district municipalities in South Africa. The district municipality has to co-ordinate development and delivery in the whole district.

        The district council is made up of two types of councillors:

        Elected councillors – they are elected for the district council on a proportional representation ballot by all voters in the area. (40% of the district councillors)

        Councillors who represent local municipalities in the area – they are local councillors sent by their council to represent it on the district council. (60% of the district councillors)

        Who votes for what?

        Metro Council voters: one PR vote for metro council
        one ward vote for individual candidate
        Local Council voters: one PR vote for local council
        one ward vote for individual candidate
        one PR vote for District Council
        District Management one PR vote for DMA representatives to DC,
        Area voters: one PR vote for District Council

        Note: in some very small local councils with very few councillors, there may be no wards and only a PR vote.

        The donkey and the elephant have been the long-serving animal mascots of the United States’ two major political parties, but how did the animals become such iconic symbols of American democracy?

        The Democrats’ donkey is the older of the two symbols, said historian Ken Davis, author of “Don’t Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned.” The donkey emerged in 1828 as a kind of insult towards the famously stubborn Democrat Andrew Jackson.

        “Andrew Jackson was called a jackass. But he kind of liked it and adopted ‘Jackass Jackson’ as a name,” Davis said. “He was quite comfortable with that idea. And it was not long before the donkey became established as the symbol of the Democratic Party.”

        The GOP’s elephant came along years later. The Republican Party wasn’t founded until 1854 in Ripon. The Republican Party grew out of splintered groups that had fractured over the years, including the Whig Party, the Know Nothing Party and other abolitionist coalitions.

        “The idea of the elephant was actually discussed at that time, but the image didn’t really come about until the 1870s,” Davis said. “And it’s really Thomas Nast, the famous American political cartoonist who really firms up both of these images in his cartoons, and they become completely linked with the two separate parties by that point.”

        The elephant rose to prominence thanks, in part, to a widely used expression during the Civil War led by President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican. Soldiers entering battle were said to be “seeing the elephant.”

        But it was Nast who really created the first and lasting versions of both animal mascots. The political cartoonist, a Republican himself, skewered the Democratic political machine known as Tammany Hall centered in New York. But it was Nast’s early drawings of Santa Claus and Uncle Sam that really catapulted him to fame.

        For the most part, both major parties have continued to stick with their mascots. However, Davis said there was the time that someone tried to re-brand the Democratic Party with a fox, but that never stuck.