With the Ohio primary election in full swing, voters have been faced with a slate of candidates for state representatives, Supreme Court justices and the president of the United States. 

The polls — open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 — lso includes an opportunity for voters to help shape the Democrat and Republican parties in Licking County and beyond through central committees.

Ohio’s Republican and Democratic Central Committees serve as the governing body of the political parties. The committees manage party operations, coordinate activities and dictate party policy, according to the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus

Committee members coordinate campaigns, identify candidates to run for office, and raise funds for the party, among other things.

Those central committees are governed by executive committees, which are often led by party leaders, already-elected officials, and people appointed by those who hold leadership positions. 

The Republican Central Committee has 475 seats across the state — though some were vacant prior to the primary election. Central Committee members for the Republican party are elected every two years, according to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

It was unclear how many seats the Democratic Central Committee maintains across Ohio prior to publication, though Central Committee members for the Democratic party are elected every four years.

Central committees are broader governing bodies. Typically, they represent the entire party’s interests within a particular geographic area, like a county or village. In Licking County, there are dozens of candidates for central committees running across townships, villages and cities this primary.  

Brin Glass writes for TheReportingProject.org, the nonprofit news organization of the Denison University Journalism Program, which is funded in part by the Mellon Foundation and donations from readers.