The main types of elections are primary elections and general elections. A primary election is one where a party chooses the candidate to represent the party in a general election. A general election is an election where multiple candidates vie for a political position.
In the United States, presidential primaries occurred between January and March in the 2012 presidential elections. The earliest primaries have traditionally occurred in Iowa and New Hampshire; however, states may set their own rules for primaries, and individual political parties may also set rules.
Referendums and recall elections are other forms of elections. A referendum is a type of election where the populace needs to decide whether to accept a particular proposition. Often, these propositions are for legislative amendments; however, certain referendums are for constitutional amendments. One example is Proposition 8, which amended the California constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.
A recall election is an election where the populace decides to remove an elected official before the end of the official's term. Recall elections generally require a certain number of signatures on a petition. Once that number is reached, the recall goes to the general populace to determine whether to remove the official.