Today, Lawrence voters will select new City Commissioners and School Board members. But there's another election next year, and even though it seems far away, the 2008 presidential decision is already grabbing headlines. Here's an explanation of some of the terminology you might be hearing:
General Election: When candidates are elected to office. General elections are held in November, on the Tuesday following the first Monday. General elections are open to all registered voters, whether or not they belong to a political party. Presidential elections are held every four years.
Primary: An election in which voters nominate their candidate (or delegates who support their candidate) for a coming general election. Usually, only members of the political party holding the primary may vote in it. In some states, the winner of a presidential primary gets all of that state's delegates to that party's nominating convention; in other states, the delegation is split according to how many votes each candidate receives. New Hampshire is scheduled to hold the first state primary next year, on Jan. 22.
Caucus: A meeting of party members to select delegates for the nominating convention. Iowa is scheduled to hold the first caucus next year, on Jan. 14.
Delegate: A person chosen (in a primary or caucus) to represent the views of others at a nominating convention. The presidential candidate who wins the majority of a party's delegates wins that party's nomination. The Democrats will select 4,354 delegates for their 2008 convention. The Republicans won't know their total until the end of this year.
Party Convention: A meeting of delegates to select the party's presidential and vice presidential nominees, called the party's "ticket." The nominees then make the case to the American people why they should be elected in the general election. In 2008 the Democrats will hold their convention in August in Denver, Colo.; the Republicans will gather in September in St. Paul, Minn.
Federal Election Commission: An agency that makes sure that candidates obey the law when they raise and spend money for their campaigns. The commission also oversees a fund that provides public money to presidential candidates.