Election Records, 1770-2013

RECORD GROUP: County Clerk
RECORD SERIES #: 600, 600.1 and 600.2
SERIES: Election Records
DATES: 1770-2013, with gaps
VOLUME: 34 cubic feet

Election Records

The election records series consists of:
General Election Annual report booklets, 1975-2013 (except 1978 & 1980)
• Primary Election results spreadsheets 1997 & 1998
• General Elections returns, 1912-2013 (not all years)
• Primary Elections returns 1968-2013 (not all years)
• Special Elections returns 1987-1988
Oaths of Office for County Officials, 1775-1931
• Town Meeting Election returns, 1780-1896
• State & National Election returns, 1784-1899
• Contested Elections returns, 1896-1909
• Appointments, 1800-1935
• Voter Registration lists, 1791, 1893-1895
• Orders for Registry, 1891, 1896
• Board of Election, Minute Books, 1944-1984
Supplement: Bonds of Office; Commissioner of Wrecks; Tickets of Nomination, and
assorted other election related material
One of the duties of the County Clerk is to serve as the Clerk of Elections. As Clerk of Elections, the Clerk is responsible for a number of tasks relating to election procedures, both before and after elections. Prior to the elections of State and County officials, or General Elections, all names of candidates are submitted to the Clerk of Elections. From the list of names, the Clerk prepares the final ballot. The Clerk also is responsible for the distribution of the required amount of ballots for each town to the Town Clerk before Election Day.

After the election, each town clerk returns the town’s elections results to the Clerk of Elections, listing the names of the candidates and the number of votes received. From each town tally sheet, the Clerk prepares the County’s official results, which are forwarded to the Secretary of State.

Until the early 1900s, the Clerk of Elections was required to hold all voter registration lists for the towns within the County and to note any additions, changes, or erasures (removal of a name from the registration lists). The registration lists were returned to the respective town clerks prior to Election Day. Today, all voter registration lists and changes to voter records are handled through the county office of the Superintendent of Registration.

In addition, the Clerk of Elections is responsible for recording and filing all documents pertaining to elections when a candidate claims tampering or mistakes made in the counting of votes affecting the outcome of the election. By law, a candidate can contest an election by requesting a recount, or in some cases, an investigation.

As County Clerk, the duties previously included the recording and filing of all annual town meeting election returns, which were received from each town clerk after the annual elections. Over the years, the election of town or township officials at annual town meetings has been eliminated. Today, local officials are elected during General Elections in November. Since town elections are combined with County, State, and Federal elections, the County Clerk is no longer required to maintain separate filing and recording procedures for town elections.

In election record keeping, the last and final stage of the County Clerk’s role as Clerk of Pleas and Sessions was the filing of each officeholder’s oath of office. The County Clerk also served as Deputy Clerk of the Superior Court until 1991. Today the County Clerk is responsible to witness and record oaths of office for county level positions. Oaths of office for municipal officeholders are recorded and filed by Township Clerks.

GENERAL ELECTION ANNUAL report booklets, 1975-2013:
Monmouth County Clerk John R. Fiorino and Special Deputy Clerk Stanley A. Davis prepared the earliest General Elections reports for 1975 and 1979. Beginning in 1980, the reports were credited to Monmouth County Clerk Jane G. Clayton and Special Deputy Clerk Stanley A. Davis. Mary L. Wadington succeeded Davis as Special Deputy, 1982-1984. Bertha C. Sumick became the Special Deputy for Elections to County Clerk Jane G. Clayton, 1985-1996, to County Clerk M. Claire French, 1997-2015, and since then to County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon. In 2017, County Clerk Hanlon appointed Judith Ricci to replace Special Deputy Sumick upon her retirement.

The General Election Annual report booklets of the General Elections held in November are published booklets compiled by the Monmouth County Clerk and the Special Deputy Clerk of Elections. The reports are arranged alphabetically by town and provide the total votes for each candidate, grouped by elected position, such as Congressional Representative, as well as tallies for State Questions and Municipal Public Questions. The individual town reports conclude with Total Registered, Total Ballots Cast, and Total Rejected. At the end of the entire report, grand totals are provided for all of Monmouth County.

The Primary Election reports spreadsheets are organized in a similar way to the General Election reports, except that there are several alphabetical sequences of towns for various elected positions. Another difference is that tallies are provided for absentees. The 1997 Primary Election report breaks absentees down into Civilian and Military absentees. The Primary Election reports were prepared under the direction of Monmouth County Clerk M. Claire French and Special Deputy Bertha C. Sumick.

OATHS OF OFFICE, 1775-1931:
Boxes 1-12, Microfilm Rolls 600-604
Under the 1776 Constitution, all appointed or elected county officials were required to take and sign an oath of office before assuming their responsibilities. From 1788 to 1850, each official signed their names under one blanket oath on long pieces of parchment which were held in the Clerk of Pleas and Sessions office in Freehold (as mentioned earlier, the County Clerk also served as Clerk of Pleas and Sessions). The elected or appointed official also noted the office held and the date the oath was taken. The Clerk of Pleas and Sessions witnessed each signature. Over the years, additional pages were added and tied together. Officeholders included on the 1788 to 1850 scrolls were: Court Justices, Commissioners, Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs, Surrogates, Coroners, Clerks of Pleas and Sessions, Constables, and Commissioners of Wrecks (shipwrecks).

Beginning in 1845, town officials, in addition to the elected and appointed County officials, were required to sign and file their oaths of office with the County Clerk. Each oath included specific wording relating to the particular position; therefore, each official signed an individual form. Officeholders signing oaths of office from 1845 to1931 included: Prosecutors, Assistant Prosecutors, Mosquito Commission officials, Board of Election members, Freeholders, Judges and Inspectors of Elections, Commissioners of Deeds, Commissioners of the Highways, Surveyors of the Highways, Notaries, and a variety of other elected or appointed county and town officials.

Boxes 13-27, Microfilm Rolls 605-607
Town Meeting elections were held annually on the second Tuesday in March. According to law, each town clerk, within ten days after the election, was required to submit the results of the annual election to the Clerk of Pleas and Sessions. The list was to include the person elected and the office to which he was elected. The return included the positions of: Moderator, Town Clerk, Assessor, Collector, Justices of the Peace (after 1844), three Commissioners of Appeal, two Surveyors of the Highway, two Judges of Election, Overseer of the Poor, Overseers of the Highways, Constables, three Township Committee members, and poundkeepers. The number of Overseers of the Highways, Constables, and poundkeepers varied according to the number of districts in the town. Also provided on some returns were various referendums presented to the voters at each election, such as amounts of money to be allotted for the care of the poor, for schools, or for road maintenance.

Town Clerks often ignored established guidelines for the format to be used in their election reports to the County Clerk. According to law, the names of the candidates and the total number of votes received for each were to be recorded on the election return. While some town clerks followed the prescribed practice, others continued to report only the winning candidates and the office awarded.

A final determination was not included with the town clerk’s election return. In cases of a tie between two candidates, it is difficult to determine the actual winner. The same is true for the offices of constables and poundkeepers, since the number of constables and poundkeepers depended on the number of districts within the town. In some cases, fourteen to twenty names were listed as candidates. Other sources, such as newspaper articles on the election, may be necessary to help identify the winners.

Boxes 29-42, Microfilm Rolls 609-611
In May of 1776, the Continental Congress advised each of the colonies to adopt its own government. The election of leaders by the people was a primary concern for the new nation, but the first efforts at establishing a system were relatively unstructured. It would take many years before the election process would be organized under the strict procedures and regulations in place today.

Under New Jersey’s 1776 Constitution, two statewide elections were held each year. Congressional elections were held in January, although from 1800 to 1815 there was some experimentation with March, June, and November.

The second election was held on the second Tuesday of October. The yearly October election included the election of State Legislative Council members (one from each county), State General Assembly members (three from each county), County Sheriffs, and County Coroners (until 1844). By 1816, the Federal government took a stronger role in the Federal level election system, enforcing tighter procedures and controls. November was set for the election of Electors for President and Vice President, while Congressional elections would fluctuate between October and November, depending on the Presidential election.

Under the new State Constitution of 1844, one election per year was mandated on the first Tuesday in November. The November election included the election of the Governor, who under the 1776 Constitution was elected by a joint meeting of the General Assembly and Legislative Council, State Senators, Electors of President and Vice President, members of the General Assembly and Legislative Council, Coroners, County Clerks, Sheriffs, and Surrogates.

The General Election subseries reflects each change in the election system from 1789 to 1899.
By law, town clerks were required to file the results of their township or town general elections with the Clerk of Election. Their report or town tally sheet included the name of each candidate, office, and the total votes each candidate received.

When all town returns were received, the Clerk of Elections compiled the countywide results and a Final Determination statement. The Clerk’s Final Determination statement, which was forwarded to the State, also included the names of the candidates, office, and total votes each received in the County.

The General Election subseries includes each town return, the County tally sheet, and the Final Determination. There are years where a town return is missing, but the final countywide results will be reflected on the Final Determination. In cases where the Final Determination is missing for a particular year, countywide results can be determined through the individual town returns.

Boxes 26-27 and 43, Microfilm Rolls 607 and 611
The election system also provided laws protecting candidates who believed an error had been made in the counting of votes. Through the “Act to Regulate Elections, Revision of 1898,” approved April 4, 1898, candidates were allowed to contest an election result by petitioning the Supreme Court of the State for a recount. In the petition, the candidate was required to relate all the circumstances surrounding the questionable election results and to deposit a fee with the County Clerk to cover the costs of the recount. In some cases, court hearings were held with all concerned parties.

The order for the official recount was handed down from a Supreme Court judge to the Clerk of Elections, who would notify the Board of Elections to start the process. The result of the recount was submitted to a Supreme Court judge for the final decision. If the judge’s determination was in favor of the contesting candidate, a certificate was issued declaring that candidate to be the winner. The certificate was filed with the County Clerk and the fee refunded to the candidate. All documents pertaining to the contested election were recorded and filed in the Clerk of Election’s office.

The following contested elections can be found within the General Election series:
1. 1896 Long Branch
2. 1901 Long Branch
3. 1902 Bradley Beach
4. 1904 Raritan Township
5. 1905 Election of High Sheriff
6. 1906 Monmouth Beach and Neptune Township
7. 1906 General Assembly Election
8. 1909 Neptune City and Raritan Township

APPOINTMENTS, 1800-1935:
Boxes 26, 28 and 43, Microfilm Rolls 607-608 and 611
The Appointment subseries is a small collection within the Election Returns series. As mentioned above, the County Clerk, as the Clerk of Pleas and Sessions, was responsible to record and hold all information pertaining to county and municipal officeholders within the County. The Appointment subseries consists of certificates of appointments and commissions issued by the Governor. The certificates include appointments and commissions for Justices of the Peace; Commissioners; Colonel and Brigadier General in the Monmouth Brigade; and Coroners. At the County level, the appointments include County Physicians; Clerks of the Courts of Oyer & Terminer, Quarter Sessions, and Common Pleas Court; Probation officers, Sergeants at Arms; Assistant Prosecutors; and Mosquito Commission members. Other appointments at the municipal level, which were filed by the Clerk, include appointments by Town Councils for various municipal positions.

Box 28 and File Drawers 601 and 602, Microfilm Roll 608
As Clerk of Elections, the County Clerk was responsible to hold all voter registration lists, which were delivered to the Clerk’s Office from the townships or towns after each election. Throughout the year, the Clerk also was required to make all corrections, additions, and erasures to the registration lists, so that the lists could be updated before they were returned to the town clerks prior to each election.

Only a small group of the voter registration lists have survived. The “List of Names of Persons entitled to the Right of Suffrage” includes the name of the registered voter and the place of residence. Included on the lists are names of voters who had been added to or erased from the list for the election.

The following Voter Registration Lists are available:
1791 Middletown Township
1893 Atlantic Township
1894 Atlantic, Eatontown, Freehold District 2, Marlboro, Middletown District 3, Upper Freehold Districts 1 and 2
1895 Freehold Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, Howell Western District, Manalapan, Matawan, Shrewsbury
Southern District, Upper Freehold Districts 1 and 2

ORDERS FOR REGISTRY, 1891 and 1896:
As Clerk of Pleas and Sessions, the Clerk also was required to issue, record and file “Orders for Registry.” If, for some reason, a voter’s name was omitted from the town or township registry list, the voter was required to apply to the judges of the Common Pleas court to obtain an “Order to be registered as a voter.” When the certificate was issued by the judges, the Clerk notified the Judges of Election in the voter’s polling district to add the name to the registry list.

In September of 2016, a supplement was added to the collection. While some of the documents are of the same types as in the original records, such as Oaths and Lists of elected officials, the rest of the supplement is new and varied, and adds to the wide scope of the election process itself. Particularly interesting are the Tickets of Nominations, which are handwritten notes from representatives of the different political parties to the County Clerk listing the names of men nominated for various local, county, and Federal offices. Other unique finds are the lists of nominations containing the signatures of the Governor at that time. These lists were sent out to every county clerk in the state to be distributed to the public before an election.

Some documents note the deaths or resignations of certain elected officials, and the need, therefore, to hold a special election or appointment to fill that vacancy.

There is also a box dedicated entirely to the position of Commissioner of Wrecks. This job required the official to arrive at the scene of a shipwreck as soon as possible to secure the wreckage and cargo, thus protecting it from looters, or “wreckers,” who made a living stealing the cargo that washed ashore. A portion of the recovery value was then paid to the government for this service. The materials include Appointments, Oaths, and Bonds of Office, similar to the rest of the election collection. In addition, there are also documents regarding the different districts for the office, as well as a few reports from the Commissioners, and an undated hand-drawn map of the Jersey coast. A list of the names of the Commissioner of Wrecks is available. Further, there are three boxes that contain only Notary Public Oaths, all from the 20th century. In the last box are notices of name changes for female notaries who married while holding that position.

This collection is open to researchers.

Except for the Supplement, election records are available on microfilm and include the first six subseries (A-F) and may be examined in the Reading Room.
Oaths of Office, Microfilm rolls 600-604
Town Meetings, Microfilm rolls 605-607
General Elections, Microfilm rolls 609-611
Contested Elections, Microfilm rolls 607 & 611
Appointments, Microfilm rolls 607-608 & 611
Voter Registration Lists & Orders for Registry, Microfilm roll 608

A computer index to names of officeholders is available. The index includes the first six subseries within the one index and provides the following information:
NAME name of officeholder
TOWN indicates place of residence of officeholder, except for County officials
BYEAR indicates year officeholder began term of office
EYEA indicates year officeholder was elected or appointed to office,
not the end of the term
A_E indicates whether officeholder was Appointed or Elected to the office
C_T indicates County or Town official
TERM indicates length of term
SUBSER indicates in which subseries the documentation can be found
MFILM indicates Microfilm Roll where the documentation can be found
NOTES includes additional information pertaining to the officeholder
such as resignations, deaths, and appointments to fill vacancies.
In instances where the officeholder appears in two subseries such as Town Meetings and Oaths, the location for all documentation is provided

Requests for special indexes will be considered by the Archives’ staff and, if approved, will require at least twenty-four hours to produce.

The Access Database of Officeholders has 3 tables:
Officeholders, 1775-1997, 18,126 records, created July 30, 1997;
Justice of the Peace, 1744-1948, 1700 records, created June 22, 1999; and
Quarter Session Officeholders, 1721-2004, 811 records, created January 20, 2004.

Each subseries is arranged as follows:

A. OATHS OF OFFICE, Microfilm Rolls 600-604
Grouped alphabetically by title of position, then chronologically within each office, and alphabetically by name in cases where two or more individuals were elected to the same office at the same time.

B. TOWN MEETINGS, Microfilm Rolls 605-607
Grouped chronologically and, within years, alphabetically by town.

C. GENERAL ELECTIONS, Microfilm Rolls 609-611
Grouped chronologically and, within years, alphabetically by town. The Final Determination statement, where available, is the last document within the year.

D. CONTESTED ELECTIONS, Microfilm Rolls 607 and 611
Grouped chronologically and, within years, alphabetically by town.

E. APPOINTMENTS, Microfilm Rolls 607-608 and 611
Grouped chronologically by year appointed, then alphabetically by office held, and alphabetically by name of appointee within office.

Voter Registration lists are arranged chronologically and, within years, alphabetically by town. Orders for Registry are arranged chronologically and, within years, alphabetically by name of voter. Names appearing on the Voter Registration lists and Orders for Registry are not listed in computer indexes.

The Supplement is arranged roughly by the order of the events of an election: notices of upcoming elections; Nominations; Election Returns; Bonds of Office; Oaths; and Lists of Elected Officials. Also included are Resignations, Appointments, Special Elections, Contested Elections, Revocations, and Declinations.

Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan, NJ 07726
Phone: (732) 308-3771
Most of these records, approximately 25 cubic feet, were transferred to the Archives by County Clerk Jane Clayton before 1994. More documents were transferred from the Monmouth County Library, Eastern Branch, in 2014 under Accession 2014-01. A few General Election reports, transferred by Freeholder Ted Narozanick in 2007 under Accession 2007-10, were merged with the series. Additional reports were transferred by Special Deputy County Clerk Bertha C. Sumick in July 2014 under Accession 2014-08.
Under Accession #2017-01, County Clerk Christine G. Hanlon transferred the Election Returns from 1912-2013, on January 25, 2017.
Under Accession #2017-02, County Clerk Christine G. Hanlon transferred the two Oaths Books, 1992-2011, and index, on January 27, 2017.
Under Accession #2017-03, County Clerk Christine G. Hanlon transferred the Election Returns 1972-1994, on January 30, 2017.
This finding aid was created by Mary Ann Kiernan in the 1990s, revised by Gary D. Saretzky on July 9, 2014, and revised October 2016 and June 2017 by George Joynson. The 2016 supplement was processed by Mary Hussey but has not yet been microfilmed or scanned.
Election results from 2000 to the present are available online on the county Open Public Records Search (OPRS) webpage. Earlier reports not available in Archives or OPRS are kept by the Special Deputy Clerk, in Elections. Archives also has a database of elected Mayors, Freeholders, County Clerks, Surrogates, Sheriffs, and Prosecutors.
General Election Annual report booklets, 1975-2013 (1 box)
Elections Collection, 1775-1935 (43 boxes)
Supplement, 1771-1966 (13 boxes)
Election Returns, 1912-2012 (3 Flat Map Cabinets 15 drawers)
Commissioner of Wrecks