The county's Board of Elections reviews a ballot on Aug. 19., 2022. Kevin Karpinski, the board's attorney (left), oversees the deliberations. Credit: Steve Bohnel

Montgomery County’s Democratic and Republican central committees are looking for party members interested in serving on the county’s Board of Elections under the new governor’s administration.

Three of five seats on the Board of Elections must be held by members of the majority party, which is the political party of the governor, per state law. Since Gov. Wes Moore is a Democrat, Democrats will have the majority on the board, which is a shake-up from the Republican-dominated board of Larry Hogan’s administration. Hogan was in office from January 2015 through January 2023, so this board will be the first majority-Democrat board in seven years.

The minority party – in this case, the Republican party – gets to nominate two members to the board.

Registered eligible Democratic voters significantly outnumber registered eligible Republican voters in Montgomery County. During the 2020 presidential election cycle, 410,935 eligible voters were registered as Democrats and 105,561 eligible voters were registered as Republicans, according to state election data.

Historically, the president of the board has been a member of the majority party, as the board itself must vote to appoint the president. The vice president of the board must be a member of the same party as the president, and the secretary of the board cannot be a member of the same party of the president and vice president.

Each political party also gets to nominate one substitute member.

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The mission of the Board of Elections is to register voters, conduct elections, assist people seeking elective office with candidate filings and campaign fund reports, assist citizens seeking to place questions on the ballot, and preserve election data, according to county budget documents. Overseeing the mail-in ballot process has become a major part of the board’s work in recent years, as mail-in and early voting has become more popular since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The operating budget for the Montgomery County Board of Elections is $10,630,327 for fiscal year 2023, according to county budget data.

To be eligible for appointment, an applicant must have been a registered voter in Montgomery County for the past five years. The term of service is four years, beginning the first Monday of June 2023 until the first Monday of June 2027.

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Individuals who are candidates for or are currently serving in public or party office are not eligible. Board of Elections members are prohibited from taking part in political activity during their term of office. Individuals nominated by both parties are subject to appointment by the governor and confirmation by the Maryland Senate.

The Montgomery County GOP will be holding interviews for those interested in representing the party in two regular seats and one substitute seat on the board, per a committee email release. Applicants interested in being considered for an interview and recommendation by the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee are asked to send a letter of interest and resume to party secretary Lori Jaffe at vtory16@yahoo.com by 6 p.m. Friday.

The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee will vote to nominate three regular members and one substitute member at a special meeting to be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 6 at the committee’s Rockville headquarters, per a committee press release. The meeting is open to the public. Applicants should submit a resume, cover letter, and any other documentation that they would like MCDCC members to consider by email to office@mcdcc.org with the subject line “Board of Elections Application” no later than 5 p.m. on Feb. 3. Applicants will have the opportunity to speak and answer questions of MCDCC members at the public meeting.

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Applicants to both parties’ seats must also apply through the governor’s office.  Applicants must complete the online application at www.govappointments.maryland.gov no later than 5 p.m. on Jan. 31. Applicants must identify the desired appointment by selecting “Civil Rights & Voting” and then “Montgomery County Board of Elections” when completing the application.