Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Should Medina County Dems Adopt Two Year Terms for Members of the Central Committee?

On March 4, Democratic and Republican voters had the opportunity to elect precinct committee persons. Each precinct has one such official and collectively they make up the Central Committee of each party. One of their duties is to meet shortly after the results of the March primary are certified and select both the officers of the Central Committee and the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee becomes the governing board for the party. There is no legal requirement that the Central Committee meet as a body once the organizational meeting has been held. Although under the by-laws of the Medina County Democratic Party, the Chair of the Central Committee can call such meetings, traditionally there haven't been meetings of the Central Committee once the Executive Committee is chosen.

This year there were 63 Democratic precinct committee persons elected, out of a total of 151 Medina County precincts. This means that only 41.7% of the precincts elected Democratic precinct committee persons. These 63 elected party officials collectively received 8229 votes. This means that while 32,687 voters took Democratic presidential ballots, only 25.1% of potential Democratic voters voted for precinct committee persons.

The reason why there was only 63 Democrats running for the Central Committee was because many of the Democrats who were precinct committee persons as of the end of 2007 didn't file petitions to run for the Central Committee. The reason for that may have been the fact that the presidential primary in Ohio is in March and the petitions for the Central Committee have to be filed in early January, 60 days before the primary. This means that circulating petitions for Central Committee often conflicts with Christmas and holiday obligations. It also means that the weather can hinder the circulation of nominating petitions.

This is not a new problem for the Medina County Democratic Party. Under the Ohio Revised Code, a political party can chose whether the members of the Central Committee serve a two year term or a four year term. Since 1992 the members of the Medina County Democratic Central Committee have served a four year term. It may be time to consider having members of the Central Committee serve a two year term instead.

If the Medina County Central Committee amended the by-laws at the organizational meeting to shorten the term to two years, this means that members of the Central Committee would be elected in 2010, during the May primary. It would probably be much easier to get people to circulate nominating petitions during the spring than in the late fall and early winter. This would lead not only to more members of the Central Committee running for election, but would also lead to more Medina County Democrats voting for the Central Committee. Such an increased vote would give more legitimacy to decisions made by the Central Committee.

Another reason to adopt two year terms is that shorter terms would bring more accountability to the Democratic Party. Right now the opportunity to change the Executive Committee only occurs once every four years. Since the Executive Committee chooses the officers of the party, the opportunity to change those officers only occurs once every four years. Going to two year terms would result in greater accountability.

We are the Democratic Party. We are about accountability. We are about encouraging people to take part in their government by voting. Adopting two year terms for the Central Committee would be consistent with our party's philosophy. It would also lead to greater participation by Medina County Democrats in their party's operation.

2 comments:

Randy said...

Section 3513 of the Ohio Revised Code governs the term and manner of election of central committee members, not the party's bylaws.

We have tried and tried to get more people to file for CC and I don't know what it takes to get them motivated.

We have put on campaigns to fill vacancies in the CC, and we get 2/3ds populated and ten 4 years has passed.

In the more distant past, the county chair always sent out CC petitions with list of Ds. After all, it only takes 5 signatures!

Then, after getting a decent CC population, they don't want to help local candidates. (Which, incidentally, cannot be a qualificationfor a CC person to be elected. You would have to change the ORC)

Team Member said...

Actually the O.R.C. section that sets the terms for precinct committee persons is 3517.03 and it reads as follows:

§ 3517.03. Membership of controlling committees


The controlling committees of each major political party or organization shall be a state central committee consisting of two members, one a man and one a woman, representing either each congressional district in the state or each senatorial district in the state, as the outgoing committee determines; a county central committee consisting of one member from each election precinct in the county, or of one member from each ward in each city and from each township in the county, as the outgoing committee determines; and such district, city, township, or other committees as the rules of the party provide.

All the members of such committees shall be members of the party and shall be elected for terms of either two or four years, as determined by party rules, by direct vote at the primary held in an even-numbered year. Except as otherwise provided in section 3517.02 of the Revised Code, candidates for election as state central committee members shall be elected at primaries in the same manner as provided in sections 3513.01 to 3513.32 of the Revised Code for the nomination of candidates for office in a county. Candidates for election as members of the county central committee shall be elected at primaries in the same manner as provided in those sections for the nomination of candidates for county offices, except as otherwise provided in sections 3513.051 [3513.05.1] and 3517.02 of the Revised Code.

Each major party controlling committee shall elect an executive committee that shall have the powers granted to it by the party controlling committee, and provided to it by law. When a judicial, senatorial, or congressional district is comprised of more than one county, the chairperson and secretary of the county central committee from each county in that district shall constitute the judicial, senatorial, or congressional committee of the district. When a judicial, senatorial, or congressional district is included within a county, the county central committee shall constitute the judicial, senatorial, or congressional committee of the district.

The controlling committee of each intermediate political party or organization shall be a state central committee consisting of two members, one a man and one a woman, from each congressional district in the state. All members of the committee shall be members of the party and shall be elected by direct vote at the primary held in the even-numbered years. Except as otherwise provided in section 3517.02 of the Revised Code, candidates for election shall be elected at the primary in the same manner as provided in sections 3513.01 to 3513.32 of the Revised Code. An intermediate political party may have such other party organization as its rules provide. Each intermediate party shall file the names and addresses of its officers with the secretary of state.

A minor political party may elect controlling committees at a primary election in the even-numbered year by filing a plan for party organization with the secretary of state on or before the ninetieth day before the day of the primary election. The plan shall specify which offices are to be elected and provide the procedure for qualification of candidates for those offices. Candidates to be elected pursuant to the plan shall be designated and qualified on or before the ninetieth day before the day of the election. Such parties may, in lieu of electing a controlling committee or other officials, choose such committee or other officials in accordance with party rules. Each such party shall file the names and addresses of members of its controlling committee and party officers with the secretary of state.