Voting Hacks: Glossary of Voting Terms

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For an election novice, navigating through the debates and platforms can be very intimidating. Even more intimidating can be the language used by parties and politicians. It’s alright to admit that you don’t understand what they’re talking about because, well, we can’t all be experts in things like this. But that’s why learning is key!

Today, we will decode 10 commonly used terms in the elections to help you understand just what the eff politicians are saying, which will hopefully help bring you one step closer to deciding on who you want to vote for on October 19. Register to vote in this year’s federal election now!

Majority [muh-jawr-i-tee, -jor-]
When a governing party has a majority of seats in parliament it has a “majority.”

Back-bencher [bak ben-cher]
An MP who doesn’t hold a government office is known as a back-bencher or a “rank and file” member.

Bill [bil]
When an idea for a new law or change to a current law is written down, it is called a bill. It then goes through a process before passing. Did you know that if a bill originates in the House of Commons it has a “c” in front of it but if it originates in the senate it has an “s”? Example: Bill C-51!

Bipartisan [bahy-pahr-tuh-zuh n]
To be bipartisan is to be in agreement on a topic that may go against that politician’s party policy. It’s a way to find common ground or compromise.

By-election [bahy-i-lek-shuh n]
A by-election is an election to fill an opening that happens during the term of office. So, unlike the Federal election when everyone goes to vote, this happens when one seat becomes vacant.

Cabinet [kab-uh-nit]
A cabinet is the head of the executive branch of government. They help make decisions on behalf of the government.

Caucus [kaw-kuh s]
Any meeting of a group of same political party to discuss policy and strategy is known as a caucus.

Constituent [kuh n-stich-oo-uh nt]
A voting member of a community or riding.

Incumbent [in-kuhm-buh nt]
A sitting member of parliament or one who currently holds office is known as an incumbent.

Riding [rahy-ding]
An electoral district is set up geographically. Each district is known as a riding and returns one MP to the House of Commons.

Hope that helps! Now take your new-found knowledge and continue learning by heading over to the Parliament of Canada website!