If you live in Atlantic County and have never run for public office before, but want to learn the basics, run for Republican County Committee! But hurry! The deadline to file your nominating petition to be on the ballot is Monday, April 4 by 4pm!
Many political groups call themselves political parties. However, New Jersey state law only recognizes two legal political parties – Republicans and Democrats. This law may seem unfair, but has been the law in New Jersey for more than a hundred years.
NJ State law lets only Republicans and Democrats choose their candidates and leaders in June “Primary Elections” held at regular election polling places. This year’s Primary Elections for Republicans and Democrats are Tuesday, June 7.
Anyone who wants to be listed as a candidate on the Primary Election ballot must file his or her nominating petition at least 64 days before that Election Date. This year, it is next Monday, April 4.
Both the Republican and Democratic Parties are run by State, County, and Local Party Committees. Each Party elects a male and female committee member for each county, town, and district in the state.
For more than a hundred years, both Republicans and Democrats elected their County and District Committee members each year. However, when “Tea Party” activists threatened the control of party leaders in 2009, both parties changed the rules. Today, State Committee members are only elected in years when the Governor is elected every four years. County and Local Party Committee members in most counties are now also elected to four year terms. The Atlantic County is choosing its County Committee members for four year terms this year, 2022.
Members of the County And Local Committees have very few duties, but sometimes they are very important.
Their most important duty is to elect the County Chairman. The County Chairman is important because he designs the party’s Primary Election ballot. The County Chairman decides which candidates run in the same “Regular” party column as the Regular Party candidates. The County Chairman can also choose to put the names of Primary candidates he or she does not like “in Siberia”. That means he or she can put those names in remote parts of the Primary Election ballot where voters have a hard time finding them.
County Committee members also have important duties at the local level. They can recommend which local candidates should run in the “Regular” Column, and which should appear “in Siberia”. However, the County Chairman has the final say.
If a public official dies or resigns before the end of his or her term, County Committee members also have powers in choosing a replacement.
County Committee is a Political Party office. It is not a public government office. There is no salary.
However, because the procedure to get on the ballot, qualify as a candidate, and get votes is the same as for public office, people running for County Committee gain valuable experience for future elections.
The first step for becoming a candidate for County Committee is to print and circulate a nominating petition. If you are running as a Republican, you can only get the signatures of voters who are qualified to vote in the June Primary election. That includes either registered Republicans, or “unaffiliated” voters who are not registered with any party.
Here is the link to the site with instructions and petition forms for County Committee in Atlantic County. Contact your County Clerk if you live elsewhere.
The number of signatures needed varies from town to town. Click here for the link to how many signatures are required in each of the 23 towns of Atlantic County.
In some towns, County Committee members are elected by Ward, Precinct, or District. You must contact the City, Township, or Borough Clerk in Your Town to find out which District you live in, and how many signatures you need.
No matter how careful you are, it is almost certain that some of your signatures will be disqualified for one reason or another. Therefore you should submit at least 10% more than the minimum number of signatures legally needed.
You must also complete and sign other forms to qualify, including an “Oath of Allegiance” and “Certificate of Acceptance”.
Your signed petitions and other required forms must be filed with the City, Township, or Borough Clerk of your town before 4pm on Monday, April 4, 2022. If you have any questions, contact your local municipal clerk or your County Clerk.
Below are the New Jersey State Statutes that describe State and County Party Committees.
19:5-3 Membership and organization of county committees; vacancies; certification of unit of representation and number of election districts.
19:5-3. The members of the county committees of political parties shall be elected at the primary for the general election in the manner provided in this Title for the selection of party candidates to be voted for at the general election by voters of a municipality at such intervals as shall be provided in the bylaws of the county committee . The county committee shall consist of one male and one female member from each unit of representation in the county . The male receiving the highest number of votes among the male candidates and the female receiving the highest number of votes among the female candidates shall be declared elected. Members of the county committee shall actually reside in the districts or units which they respectively represent. The county committee shall determine by its bylaws the units into which the county shall be divided for purpose of representation in the county committee .
The members of the county committee of each of the political parties shall take office by the third Saturday following the certification of the results of their election, on which day the terms of all members of such committees theretofore elected shall terminate. The annual meeting of each county committee shall be held by the third Saturday following the certifications of the results of the primary election, except that when such meeting day falls on a legal holiday then the said meeting shall be held on the day following, and when such meeting day falls on the day of a municipal runoff election within the county then said meeting may be held on the day following, at an hour and place to be designated in a notice in writing to be mailed by the chairperson to each member and member-elect. If the annual meeting coincides with a period of religious observance, the meeting may be held on another date, and under no circumstances shall that date occur later than the third Tuesday following the certification of the results of the primary election. The members of such committee shall elect some suitable person as chairperson who shall be a resident of such county to hold office until a successor is elected. The chairperson of the outgoing county committee shall transmit, with the notice of the annual meeting, a copy of the constitution and bylaws to any newly elected committee member. The members shall also elect a vice-chairperson of the opposite sex of the chairperson to hold office for 1 year or until a successor is elected and the vice-chairperson shall perform all duties required by law and the constitution and bylaws of such committee . Any person elected or appointed to membership on the county committee pursuant to R.S.19:5-2 may request, in writing and by certified mail to the county chairperson, such constitution or bylaws currently in effect. The committee member requesting the constitution or bylaws shall receive the constitution or bylaws within 48 hours of the receipt of the request by the chairperson. The chairperson shall preside at all meetings of the committee and shall perform all duties required by law and the constitution and bylaws of such committee .
When a member of a county committee ceases to be a resident of the district or unit from which elected, a vacancy on the county committee shall exist. A member of a county committee of any political party may resign their office to the committee of which they are a member, and upon acceptance thereof by the committee , a vacancy shall exist. A vacancy in the office of a member of the county committee of any political party, caused by death, resignation, failure to elect, or removal for cause, shall be filled for the unexpired term by the municipal committee of the municipality wherein the vacancy occurs, if there is such committee , and if not, by the remaining members of the county committee of such political party representing the territory in the county in which such vacancy occurs. The chairperson of the outgoing county committee shall provide a copy of the constitution and bylaws to any committee member appointed pursuant to R.S.19:5-2 to fill a vacancy within three business days of the committee member’s selection.
The chairperson of the county committee of the several political parties shall, before April 1 in a year in which county committee members are to be elected, certify to the clerk of each municipality in the county the unit of representation in such municipality, together with the enumeration of the election district or districts embraced within such unit.
19:5-4 Membership and organization of State committees; vacancies; national committee members.
19:5-4. The members of the State committee of each of the political parties shall be elected at the primary for the general election of the year in which a Governor is to be elected.
The number of males and females comprising the State committee of each of the political parties from each county may be determined by the bylaws of each such political party, but in any event in accordance with one of the following methods:
a. One male and one female member of the State committee to be elected in each county, each having one vote; or
b. Not less than 79 nor more than 82 elected members, to be apportioned among the several counties in accordance with population as determined at the most recent Federal decennial census; provided that each county shall have at least one vote, and provided further that the members of the State committee from each county shall be divided equally between males and females. In those counties with an odd number of State committee members, one seat shall be shared by one male and one female who shall each have one-half vote in all matters of the State committee ; or
c. One male and one female member of the State committee to be elected in each county, each member having a vote weighted in strength on the basis of population as determined at the most recent Federal decennial census.
The members of the State committee of each of the political parties shall take office on the first Tuesday following their election, on which day the terms of all members of such committees theretofore elected shall terminate. The annual meeting of the State committee shall be held on the first Tuesday after such primary election at the hour and place to be designated in a notice in writing to be mailed by the chairman of the outgoing State committee to each member-elect. The members of the committee shall elect some suitable person as chairman. The committee shall have power to adopt a constitution and bylaws for its proper government. The chairman shall preside at all meetings of the committee and shall perform all duties required of him by law and the constitution and bylaws of such committee .
A member of a State committee of any political party may resign his office to the committee of which he is a member, and upon acceptance thereof by the committee a vacancy shall exist. A vacancy in the office of a member of the State committee of any political party, howsoever caused, shall be filled for the unexpired term by the members of the county committee of such political party in the county in which the vacancy occurs.
Members of the State committee shall serve for 4 years or until their successors are elected. The State committee shall choose its chairperson and the member or members of the national committee of its political party.
Amended 1948, c.216, ss.1,3; 1978, c.15, s.1; 2009, c.135, s.4.
Amended 1946, c.11, ss.3,17 (1946, c.11, ss.3,17; repealed 1948, c.2, s.32); 1948, c.2, s.4; 1955, c.236; 1964, c.23; 1965, c.4, s.3; 1966, c.19, s.2; 1967, c.7, s.2; 1967, c.26, s.2; 1968, c.292, s.2; 1978, c.29; 1979, c.458, s.2; 1980, c.105, s.3; 2009, c.135, s.2; 2011, c.180; 2021, c.108, s.2.
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