Maryland’s elections will be overseen by Jared DeMarinis, who was selected on Thursday as the state’s new elections administrator.
DeMarinis will take over for the longtime administrator, Linda Lamone, who plans to retire later this year after more than 25 years in the post.
The Maryland State Board of Elections voted unanimously during a video meeting on Thursday to select DeMarinis for the top job. He’s previously headed the state board’s candidacy and campaign finance division.
“This is a tremendous honor and privilege and opportunity,” DeMarinis said. “I will work hard to provide Marylanders the best in voting and election administration.”
The state elections administrator works with the state board and local elections officials to carry out Maryland’s elections. The state has more than 4.1 million registered voters and officials are preparing for yet another set of high-interest elections in 2024 for president, mayor of Baltimore and an open seat in the U.S. Senate.
Running elections has become an increasingly challenging task, especially since the pandemic-affected voting in 2020 and the subsequent questioning of results that followed, led by losing presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. Election workers across the country have reported threats and harassment.
And the mechanics of voting have changed, too: In Maryland’s gubernatorial election last fall, nearly 27% of the ballots cast were done so through the mail, a sharp uptick compared to before the coronavirus pandemic. Maryland also offers several days of early voting and traditional Election Day voting.
The vote for DeMarinis was unanimous and bipartisan. Elections board member Sky Woodward, a Republican, nominated DeMarinis for the top job, saying he had the needed experience and expertise for the role.
DeMarinis has worked at the state elections board for 18 years and in many ways is the face of the agency, Woodward said.
DeMarinis’ appointment as elections administrator will be effective Sept. 1, allowing him to work with outgoing administrator Lamone on the transition. He’ll also face confirmation by the Maryland Senate when the General Assembly convenes its next session in January.
In brief remarks, DeMarinis said that voting is “a sacred right” and he will work to ensure that everyone has the ability to vote.
While there have been great advances in voting technology that makes the process easier, DeMarinis said this is also a period of peril for elections and democracy from “dis-, mis- and mal-information.”
Lamone, the departing elections administrator, has been at times a controversial figure in Maryland politics, but has endured changing political winds and attempts to remove her from her position. After there was an attempt to remove Lamone in 2004, lawmakers changed state law to make it harder to unseat the state elections administrator.
Lamone ran into headwinds again in 2020, when then-Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford called for her to resign after some mail ballots arrived too late and after there was an issue with the tabulation and posting of Baltimore City’s results that year.
Then earlier this year, lawmakers changed the law again to make it easier to remove and replace the elections administrator. As that bill was making its way through the General Assembly, Lamone announced her upcoming requirement.