An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations.
The universal use of elections as a tool for selecting representatives in modern democracies is in contrast with the practice in the democratic archetype, ancient Athens. As the Elections were considered an oligarchic institution and most political offices were filled using sortition, also known as allotment, by which officeholders were chosen by lot.
Electoral reform describes the process of introducing fair electoral systems where they are not in place, or improving the fairness or effectiveness of existing systems. Psephology is the study of results and other statistics relating to elections (especially with a view to predicting future results).
To elect means "to choose or make a decision" and so sometimes other forms of ballot such as referendums are referred to as elections, especially in the United States.
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Famous quotes containing the word election:
“What a glorious time they must have in that wilderness, far from mankind and election day!”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“Last evening attended Croghan Lodge International Order of Odd Fellows. Election of officers. Chosen Noble Grand. These social organizations have a number of good results. All who attend are educated in self-government. This in a marked way. They bind society together. The well-to-do and the poor should be brought together as much as possible. The separation into classescastesis our danger. It is the danger of all civilizations.”
—Rutherford Birchard Hayes (18221893)
“Do you know I believe that [William Jennings] Bryan will force his nomination on the Democrats again. I believe he will either do this by advocating Prohibition, or else he will run on a Prohibition platform independent of the Democrats. But you will see that the year before the election he will organize a mammoth lecture tour and will make Prohibition the leading note of every address.”
—William Howard Taft (18571930)