Imagine there is a governor in a certain federal state. He or she is currently in office, and if they manage to win the next election, they will stay there.

If the people vote for another candidate, the acting governor will be put out of office.

What is a verb for the voters putting a politician out of office by voting for a different candidate?

De-elect sounds awkward.

Sample sentence (I need a replacement for de-elect):

Dudayev’s popularity plummeted and it was almost certain that the Chechens would de-elect him during the approaching election.

  • 1
    How about 'dump'? That captures the sentiment more accurately.
    – Masked Man
    Feb 28 '17 at 7:39

Simply vote out.

vote out phrasal verb [transitive]

 to remove a person or political party from a position by voting


The multi-word verb is optionally separable (They surprisingly voted Churchill out / They surprisingly voted out Churchill) except when the object is a pronoun (Dudayev’s popularity plummeted and it was considered almost certain that the Chechens would vote him out in the approaching election.) [acknowledgement to DCShannon]

  • 3
    This is good, but it needs to show how this fits in the example sentence for usage. I would think: "Dudayev’s popularity plummeted and it was almost certain that the Chechens would vote him out during the approaching election."
    – DCShannon
    Feb 28 '17 at 17:01

The verb unseat (“To deprive of the right to sit in a legislative body, as for fraud in election, or simply by defeating them in an election” — en.wiktionary) is sometimes used in this context.

Following are some quotes from entries in the 1996-2008 webpage link at the ngrams for unseat webpage:

• Houston Democrat John Martinez is trying to unseat incumbent John Culberson (R). Educator Felix Alvarado (D) is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R). Business owner Lico Reyes will face incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess.

• Speaker of the legislature and member of the People's Party of Armenia Armen Khachatrian resigned his position as speaker because of efforts to unseat him from the post.

• After a lull of nearly a year, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has resumed its bid to unseat President Robert Mugabe from power, this time not through the ballot box but via mass protests ...

• For an internship in a course on Christianity and politics, I immersed myself in a challenger's race to unseat a strong incumbent senator. The race was tight and high profile for the ever-strengthening Republican Party in the South...

  • On the face of it this suggestion seems good, but for some reason it doesn't quite sit right with me for the OP's phrase. I think that maybe "unseat" is a targeted effort by a specific person/group, rather than the action of the whole populace.
    – AndyT
    Feb 27 '17 at 12:06
  • 3
    In two examples, a rival candidate tries to unseat an incumbent by winning an election. In the case of the speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia, only members of the legislature can vote for a new speaker. In the remaining example, no popular election is involved at all. While the dictionary definition fits the desired meaning, it does not seem to be used in the sense of "vote out" in a popular election.
    – David K
    Feb 27 '17 at 14:23
  • 1
    Unseat sounds fine to me for populace taking part in a election. "Representative Jones was unseated by the voters in Townsville." Where it gets weird, in my opinion, is applying it to executive offices – like the governor in the question – instead of legislators. Being one member of a body, committee or a panel lends itself to the metaphor of "having a seat" much more aptly than being the one person in a given office. Still, +1
    – Patrick M
    Feb 27 '17 at 20:58



to remove from or dispossess of property or position by legal action, by force, or by the compulsion of necessity

Source: merriam-webster

Sample use in a sentence:

Dudayev’s popularity plummeted and it was almost certain that the Chechens would oust him during the approaching election.

  • 2
    Similar, and by my ear, used more commonly is simply reject. Feb 27 '17 at 19:20
  • @hatchet Oust specifically indicates that the target is an incumbent. Reject could be used of someone who's not in office. Feb 28 '17 at 21:04
  • This has a "by force" or non-electoral connotation to me...
    – Barett
    Mar 1 '17 at 0:19

One possible word is "recall." See, for example, the California gubernatorial recall election in which California voters voted to remove governor Gray Davis from office before his term expired.

I'm not sure if you're looking for a compound word, but some other countries have a similar process called a no-confidence vote.

A much stronger word is "impeach," which occurs when a politician has been accused of a serious crime. See, for example, the case of the successful impeachment of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who was accused of various types of official corruption, or the efforts to impeach then-President Bill Clinton for perjury.

Note that the latter two processes might not actually be initiated by voters. For example, in the U.S. at least impeachment proceedings are initiated and carried out by the Legislature.

  • 9
    "Recall" was the first word I thought of too, but I think it's not applicable because the question is looking for 'being removed from office via the standard election cycle'; recalls, no-confidence votes, and impeachments are all separate from the normal process of winning or losing the popular vote.
    – Hellion
    Feb 27 '17 at 18:39

Not quite what the question is after but certainly worth considering, as this will often come up in elections:

  • protest vote

Wikipedia - Protest Vote

It does not automatically imply anything concrete about the outcome of the election but absolutely does suggest a vote for a different candidate.


Specifically(but no necessarily) if there are more than 2 possible candidates, you may vote for someone that is not your favourite but more popular, just so that your least favourite doesn't get in. This is known as strategic, or tactical voting


  • The Cambridge Dictionary's definition doesn't require more than two candidates; just that you're voting for someone you may not normally support just to prevent the/another candidate from winning.
    – TripeHound
    Feb 28 '17 at 15:13
  • @TripeHound Fair enough, but in the case there's 2 candidates you are voting for your favourite candidate. I've always interpreted this phrase to mean that you're voting for someone you'd less prefer
    – Cruncher
    Feb 28 '17 at 15:18
  • In case it's not clear, I'm in favour of using this term, I was showing evidence that you don't necessarily need more than two candidates to use it. In a two-horse race, technically the one you vote for is your favourite (of the two), and sometimes they genuinely will be your preferred candidate. But sometimes, it might be someone you would not usually support (from the definition I cited), but is seen as "the lesser of two evils" -- you support them because you dislike the other candidate more.
    – TripeHound
    Feb 28 '17 at 15:31
  • @TripeHound No, I understood that you were in favour of the term, no worries there(in some sense, you seem to be more in favour of it than me)! What you're saying makes sense though. I'll give you that it's not necessarily exclusive to more than 2 candidates, but definitely suggestive of that scenario. I'll edit the answer slightly
    – Cruncher
    Feb 28 '17 at 16:08
  • 2
    -1 because it doesn't work with the example sentence: "Dudayev’s popularity plummeted and it was almost certain that the Chechens would tactically vote him during the approaching election."
    – DCShannon
    Feb 28 '17 at 17:00

You either elect or not elect someone, so I think you have to go with a sentences like:

Dudayev’s popularity plummeted and it was almost certain that the Chechens would not re-elect him during the approaching election.

If you are referring to a forceful act you may use:


  • to force someone to leave a position of power, job, place, or competition: The president was ousted (from power) in a military coup in January.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

  • Which of these options do you think is better: not elect or not elect for another term?
    – user220427
    Feb 27 '17 at 8:18
  • I know your original answer contained oust as a solution, but for some inexplicable reason you freely chose to delete your answer. In your same position, I'm not sure I would have undeleted my contribution after two days, or reinserted oust in an answer. User1108 submitted oust after you had deleted your post, and now we have two answers suggesting the same verb. Yours is the weaker one, it adds absolutely nothing new.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 2 '17 at 8:11
  • To "not elect" a candidate does not mean to remove a person or political party from a position by voting Emphasis on remove.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 2 '17 at 8:16
  • I thought it was a wrong suggestion, but apparently it is not. Undeliting it now is not going to do any harm to anybody.
    – user66974
    Mar 2 '17 at 8:16
  • In an election you don't remove , you just elect or not. Removal is a consequence. Vote out is a good idiomatic expression and the meaning is "not vote for".
    – user66974
    Mar 2 '17 at 8:18


I can offer a one-word verb that includes the political connotation you want. Elect and eject pair rather nicely, wouldn't you say?

The Oxford Living Dictionary gives a secondary meaning of the word eject as follows:

Dismiss (someone) from office.
‘he was ejected from office in July’

Here is an example from USA news site MSNBC:

Are Democrats missing opportunity to eject Marco Rubio?