Maryland State Board of Elections taps longtime employee Jared DeMarinis as administrator

June 8, 2023

Baltimore Sun

The Maryland State Board of Elections has hired a new elections administrator, selecting a longtime employee for the top job.

Jared DeMarinis was chosen by a unanimous vote during a brief virtual meeting of the board Thursday. DeMarinis, who has worked as the director of the board’s candidacy and campaign finance division, will face a confirmation hearing before the Maryland State Senate next session before he can take on the role in a permanent capacity.

DeMarinis has served in the campaign and candidacy finance division for 18 years. He is a member of the Council on Government Ethics Laws and has worked as an international election monitor in Estonia, the Bahamas, North Macedonia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

If confirmed, DeMarinis will succeed Linda Lamone, who at times has been a polarizing figure in Maryland state politics. Lamone announced in March that she was retiring after 26 years in the post.

Under the state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, the administrator’s salary range is $120,000 to $166,364. According to the comptroller’s office, Lamone was paid $163,000 in 2022.

Named administrator in 1997 during the administration of Democratic Gov. Parris Glendening, Lamone, 80, beat back several attempts to oust her, most notably one mounted in 2004 by Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

After months of pressure from Ehrlich, the state board met in a closed-door meeting that year and voted to suspend Lamone. Board members cited a provision allowing the administrator to be removed for “incompetence, misconduct or other good cause.” Lamone persevered, however, with Democratic leaders rising to her aid. They dubbed Ehrlich’s maneuver “a blatant abuse of political power.”

After a judge granted an injunction allowing Lamone to keep her job, Democrats pushed legislation to give the election administrator unprecedented protection. The legislation allowed an administrator to continue in office until the Senate confirms a successor.

After Lamone’s retirement announcement, the board kicked off a search for a new elections administrator in early May.

Also in the running was Nikki Charlson, Lamone’s No. 2 at the agency. Charlson has served as the agency’s deputy since 2013. She has worked for the board for the past 20 years, both in her current post and as director of election reform and management.

In her nomination of DeMarinis, elections board member Sky Woodward said that he “has been really the face of the agency with respect to policymakers, advocates and members of the public.”

Jared DeMarinis stands next to campaign documents at the Maryland State Board of Elections on April 12, 2013, in Annapolis.

“This board was particularly impressed with Jared’s passion for a nonpartisan approach to elections, his vision for the State Board of Elections, energy for cooperation and innovative, solution-based approaches on things that would have to be advanced in the next realm of the State Board of Elections after many, many years of extremely capable leadership by Linda Lamone,” Woodward said.

DeMarinis was Montgomery County Sen. Cheryl Kagan’s pick for the position. In an interview with The Baltimore Sun Thursday afternoon, Kagan called him “a trusted voice by leaders of both parties” who will “be able to hit the ground running as we prepare to select new voting equipment for the 2026 election, while also preparing for the 2024 election.”

“I will work hard to provide Marylanders the best in voting and election administration,” DeMarinis said after the vote. “Voting is a sacred right that has been fought for with each and every generation, and this period has some of the greatest advances in technology to help assist us in making sure everyone has the ability to vote, but it comes with some perils, as well, and we must be proactive in dealing with those.”