County Committee Handbook

The Basics

What is the County Committee and what is a County Committee Member? 

The County Committee is a democratic body of elected committee persons with a delegation of 2 members from each voting district in each municipality of the County. Each County Committee person serves as a representative of their voting district to the County Committee and embodies the Democratic values and interests of their voting district. A voting district is different from most kinds of election maps: a voting district is defined as a continuous geographical region that votes at a designated voting location. In other words, everyone in your voting district has the same polling location.

The Ocean County Democratic Committee is the official organization that exists to promote the Democratic platform in county and municipal governments by growing grassroots support, assisting candidates running for office, and providing a community of like-minded Democrats to enhance our local and national goals.

How do I become a member of the County Committee?

The County Committee is an elected office. Democrats in your district vote on Primary Election Day in early June for two candidates to serve on the Democratic County Committee for a term of four years. Once the votes have been counted and the election certified, the two candidates with the most votes are elected to hold the title of County Committee member for the voting district in their municipality.

If you are interested in running for County Committee, or would like to view vacancies, reach out to us at [email protected].

How is the County Committee organized?

The Organization is led by an executive board consisting of a Chair, Vice-Chair, two Secretaries, and a Treasurer. They run the daily activities of the organization. Then, beneath the Executive Board are the Municipal Chairs, who are elected by the County Committee members of their respective municipalities. Municipal Chairs serve as the liaison between the county organization and the County Committee members who each represent a district within the municipality.

Find a list of Municipal Chairs here: www.oceancountydems.org/committee

Responsibilities of Municipal and County Committees:

Between Congressional, County, State, and Local offices, there are numerous opportunities to run for office. Every democratically elected office represents a different section of the population based on geographical boundaries. The constituency is the group of people that live within those boundaries. For example, at the Federal Level, Cory Booker is a US Senator who represents all of NJ. Andy Kim is a Representative in the US House, so he represents just one district within the state (CD3). Trenton is the seat of NJ’s state level government, which includes Senators and Assemblypeople from 40 districts throughout the state. The County Commissioners (formerly Freeholders) govern all of Ocean County. Municipalities are governed by Mayors and Town Council members.

Recruiting Candidates at the Municipal, County Levels

One of the objectives of a Political Committee is to find candidates to run for office within their designated level of government and district. County Committees find candidates for county level offices & offices that represent several municipalities within the county, and Municipal Committees find candidates for political offices that are limited to that municipality.

Ocean County Democratic Committee

Your Municipal Committee

Congressional Candidates
State Senate
State Assembly
County Clerk
Surrogate
County Commissioner
County Sheriff

Mayor
Township Committee
Town Council

How the County Organization Helps the Municipal Organization

The Ocean County Democrats provide tools to Municipal Committees that assist with the recruitment of candidates and voter outreach. One such resource is the VAN (Voter Activation Network) Database. The VAN allows political operatives to obtain data about voters, including voting history, contact information, and polling data. Municipal Committees can request lists of voters in their districts to recruit candidates, canvass voters on behalf of campaigns, and even reach out to Democrats to promote local Democratic events.

The Municipal Committee, because it is closest to the voters in a district, is the ideal entity to find candidates for municipal office. Additionally, County Committee Leadership can provide strategic advice on managing a campaign and assist in constructing political messaging.

The Sharing of Information

Since the County Organization is mostly concerned with County Level offices, and Municipal Organizations are mostly concerned with municipal level offices, each independent committee keeps a pulse on political affairs respective to their level of government. The County Committee and Municipal Committees share this knowledge with one another to help in the elections.

The County Committee shares information on Federal, State and County races to voters, including information about the candidates in each election cycle.  In turn, Municipal Committees may know about a local issue that can become an election focal point. The County Committee uses the information provided by the Municipal Committee to better understand local issues and to tailor messaging, and the Municipal Committee communicates information about Federal, State, and County races to voters.

The “I”s of County Committee Membership

We like to say that County Committee members are the ‘eyes’ and ears of their district. There are three “I”s that a County Committee member should embody.

A County Committee person is:

  • Informed. They are knowledgeable about voting procedures and rights in their district so they can help voters in their district.  They know of the offices that will be on the ballot in a given election within their district. They know who their federal (US Senate and House of Representatives) and state (Senate and Assembly) representatives are, as well as the name of their town mayor.
  • Involved. They will be present at county, caucus, and club meeting events. They maintain a strong voting record. As leaders in the Democratic Party, they work to increase Democratic voter turnout. They are eager to volunteer for Democratic campaigns that touch their district.
  • Influential. They are willing to exercise their voting rights at convention meetings (Mini-Convention) to influence the leadership and platform endorsement of candidates of the Democratic Committee. They vote for leadership at the municipal and county level.  County Committee members can also influence strong local candidates to run for office and connect them with the resources that will make their campaign a success.

We have broken down the elements of being a County Committee person further into subcategories.

Informed

The Democratic County Committee person will stand up for the voting rights of Democrats in their district. They know how to register new voters in their district, where their regular polling location is, who will be on the ballot, and the names of their representatives.

Along with the following links, the tools section contains helpful hints on organizing in your district and helping your voters access the information they need.

Know the Three Ways to Vote:

  • Apply for a Vote-by-Mail ballot and return it one of the following ways:
    • Mail: Vote-by-Mail ballots sent through the mail must be postmarked by Election Day and received by the County Board of Elections on or before the sixth day after the close of the polls.
    • Secure Ballot Drop Box: Place it in one of your County’s secure ballot drop boxes by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
      Drop box locations can be found on the County Clerk Election Services site.
    • Board of Elections Office: Deliver it in person to your County’s Board of Elections Office by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
      Deliver it: Board of Elections 101 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, NJ 08753
  • In-Person Early Voting for both the Primary Election and the General Election. Each NJ county will hold in-person machine voting. There are several Early Voting locations in NJ. You can vote at any of the Early Voting locations. Early Voting locations will be open from at least 10 am to 8 pm on Mondays through Saturdays (during the General Election), and from at least 10 am to 6 pm on Sundays.
    Go to the oceancountyclerk.com/frmElectionServices for your early voting sites.
  • In-Person Voting on Election Day, at your polling place, from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Accommodations will be made for voters with disabilities.
    Find your polling place: voter.svrs.nj.gov/polling-place-search
    NOTE: Vote-by-Mail ballots CANNOT be returned to your polling place.

What are the County Clerk and the Board of Elections?

Holding an election is a tremendous process that requires cooperation between multiple levels of government. The Board of Elections and the Office of the County Clerk work together to conduct elections. The County Clerk prepares and distributes the ballots, and the Board of Elections conducts the elections, including the counting of the ballots.

Office of the County Clerk
118 Washington St.
Toms River, NJ 08753
732-929-2018
oceancountyclerk.com/frmElectionServices

Ocean County Board of Elections
101 Hooper Ave.
Toms River, NJ 08753
Website: co.ocean.nj.us/electionboard/frmHome.aspx

You can find most answers to questions that voters in your district might have on the County Clerk’s Website. Below are some of the forms and services that can be found on the website:

  • Drop Box Locations for Vote-by-Mail
  • Early Voting Locations
  • Sample Ballots
  • Vote by Mail Ballot Applications
  • Vote by Mail Opt-Out Form
  • Election Dates
  • Live and Historical Election Results
  • Polling Location Hours

Involved

Regular Voter. As a County Committee person, you are an expert on voting in your district. County Committee people should maintain a regular voting record of participating in every primary, general, and special election regardless of whether it is a presidential or midterm election year. County Committee members should also convince their friends and family to vote.

County Events. The Ocean County Democratic Committee offers multiple ways of getting involved in local politics. We have seasonal fundraisers, meet and greets, rallies, and volunteer events.

Caucuses. Caucuses are groups of Democrats with common interests that work within the County Organization.

  • LGBTQ+ Caucus. Supports the recruitment and application of resources for LGBTQ candidates running for office. Works to enhance and protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people in our county, state, and country.
  • Women’s Caucus. Recruits and trains women candidates and works to get them elected. Protects and enhances women’s rights, including the right to choose. 
  • Hispanic Caucus. Works on outreach and organization with Latino voters and candidates. Supports the recruitment of and provides resources for Hispanic candidates at all levels. 

Clubs. Democrats in the local clubs discuss developments in our county and country. Democratic County Committee members are involved in their local club. Please reach out to [email protected] for information on connecting with your local Democratic club.

Volunteer for Campaigns. Each year, candidates across the country search for volunteers to power their campaigns. As a leader in the district, you know the issues that people care about, and know how to speak to voters in that district. Every campaign, from Presidential to Town Council, needs committed volunteers to talk with voters about how their candidate can solve local issues. It is great to find a campaign that is directly relevant to your district, but there are often important close races that you can serve around the county. Some of the ways to get involved with a political campaign are by phone banking, texting, door-to-door canvassing, attending rallies, fundraisers, and other campaign events.

Influential

Members of the Democratic County Committee are able to influence the goals and direction of their local Democratic Party.

Mini-Convention. The Mini-Convention is held every year where there is an election, usually in March. In this, the County Committee convenes to vote on a recommendation to the Chair for an official endorsement for the County, State, and Congressional primary candidates. At the convention, each candidate gives a speech asking the committee to back them. You have the opportunity to influence the direction of the Democratic Party.

Finding Democrats to Run for Office.  One way a County Committee person can influence an election is to find and inspire Democrats to run for office.  Look for people who are leaders in your community, who are interested in a specific local issue, or who are interested in politics. You can work with your Municipal Chair, local Democratic Club, and County Organization to recruit candidates to run for office. 

Represent Local Issues. As a local representative for your district, you know the issues that are important to the voters. You will be able to bring those issues to the attention of local officials, party leaders, and candidates.



County Committee Toolbox

Here are some tools that you can use to raise awareness about Democratic values and candidates within your district.

Voter Lists. It is important for County Committee people to have handy a list of the registered Democrats in their district. You can obtain an up-to-date spreadsheet by reaching out to your Municipal Chair, found on our website www.oceancountydems.org

Texting. We have a tool that can be used to text a large number of people very quickly. You can work with your Municipal Chair to let your district know about events, campaigns, and meetings.

Newsletter. We send out a newsletter that provides information on state, local, and national issues so that you can be informed and share information with people in your district. Archived articles from our newsletter are available at www.oceancountydems.org/ocdemocrat_newsletter To receive the newsletter, sign up on our website at www.oceancountydems.org



How Do I...

As part of being an informed member of the County Committee, voters may seek you out to answer their questions about voting. We have included some common questions that someone might ask you, and how you can work to solve the problem.

How do I register to vote? You can register online by going to voter.svrs.nj.gov/register. You can find voter registration forms at town hall, post office, motor vehicle agencies, and most government buildings. They can be mailed to the Board of Elections.

I never received my mail-in ballot. How do I get my mail in ballot? When a voter approaches you with a problem regarding their mail-in ballot, the best thing to do is to take down the voter’s information and reach out to the County Clerk (732-929-2018). Have the voter’s street address, town, and ZIP code handy when interacting with the Board of Elections or County Clerk. You can also reach out to your Municipal Chair or [email protected] to help solve a mail-in ballot problem.

How do I change my party? Hopefully you are helping recruit new Democrats. There are two ways someone becomes registered as a Democrat: they are an undeclared voter and may go to the polls on a Primary Election and declare their party or they submit a change of party form to the Board of Elections.

Find a Party Declaration Form here www.state.n.jus/state/elections/voter-party-affiliation-declaration.shtml

How do I become a poll worker? Please contact your Municipal Chair or reach us at [email protected] if you are interested in working the polls.

 

 

 

 

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