March 29, 2023
Linda Lamone, who has led the Maryland State Board of Elections since 1997, told the five-member election board during a meeting Wednesday she plans to retire this upcoming summer.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with so many talented and dedicated people to help shape election policy at the state and national level,” Lamone, a Democrat, said, reading from a statement. “We’ve worked tirelessly to conduct numerous successful elections, each one with its own challenges. There were new systems to implement, new procedures to expand access to the electoral process to develop and administer, and election systems and data to protect in response to cyber threats.”
Her colleagues were generous in their praise.
Severn Miller, a Republican member of the board said the strength of the board’s staff is a testament to Lamone’s leadership.
“I think that … you’re leaving the SBPE in terrific condition with really super people to accomplish all the things the board needs to do,” Miller said.
Michael Summers, a Democratic member of the board thanked Lamone for her “stalwart, steadfast leadership through tumultuous times,” and said “you’ve steered the ship called Maryland election law quite well beyond a lot of folks’ expectations.”
“It is truly an honor to know you, and and we do honor the sacrifices of those who have allowed us to witness your leadership,” Summers said.
Lamone frequently found herself at the center of election-related hubbub and political ire — and calls for her removal — during her tenure.
In 2004, the State Board of Elections suspended Lamone and attempted to have her permanently removed from her position. The move was later viewed as politically motivated by then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican.
After, lawmakers changed the law to make it more difficult to remove the state election administrator.
In 2020, then-Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, also a Republican, called for Lamone’s resignation after mail ballots were late arriving to voters and Baltimore election results were posted to the state site and then removed with no explanation. State officials later explained they pulled the results to correct an error in how the votes were tabulating.
A bill sponsored by Montgomery County Democrat Sen. Cheryl Kagan and Anne Arundel County Republican Sen. Bryan Simonaire that would alter the rules for removing a state administrator of elections is currently being considered in the House after it passed the Senate 43-2. A House version of the legislation, sponsored by Anne Arundel County Democrat Dana Jones, passed unanimously in its chamber.
Kagan says members of both parties are backing the bill, a measure of its importance.
“The support behind the bill in the House and the Senate show the legislature is ready for a change in leadership” at the helm of the state Board of Elections. Kagan said Lamone was not the sole inspiration for the legislation, nor will her departure from the role lead to the withdrawal of the bill.
Power needs to be limited, Kagan said.
The bill would allow the administrator to be removed for “incompetence, misconduct, or other good cause” with an affirmative vote from four of five election board members. Under the proposed bill’s provisions, the state board of elections must dictate in writing why the official is to be dismissed and the administrator must be given “notice and an ample opportunity to be heard.”
Lamone credited her husband, who died in January, for supporting her work. Rudolph P. “Rudy” Lamone served for 20 years as the dean of the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
“He was my faithful supporter and biggest cheerleader, Lamone said, “and for that I will always be grateful.”