Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11:15 a.m. on June 6, 2023 to correct that two members of the Board of Elections are immigrants and three are the children of immigrants.
“I want all of you to know that your work is more critical now than ever,” former U.S. Congresswoman Connie Morella (R-Dist. 8) told the Montgomery County Board of Elections at its swearing-in ceremony Monday at Montgomery County in Germantown.
Morella addressed a packed crowd of Montgomery County politicians, officials and community members.
“I think you’ve sensed that we’ve faced disinformation and distrust of the literacy and the legitimacy of our elections,” Morella said. “Your work helps to eradicate this lack of faith in our electoral process.”
Three new members and four returning members were officially sworn-in to the Board of Elections at Monday’s ceremony after being nominated by Gov. Wes Moore (D) earlier this year.
The newly appointed board includes:
- David A. Naimon, President – Democrat
- Daniel A. Koroma, Vice President – Democrat
- Amie Hoeber, Secretary – Republican
- Keyna I. Anyiam, Member – Democrat
- Diane Nash Dillon, Member – Republican
- Margie Delao, Substitute Member – Democrat
- Alexander Vincent, Substitute Member – Republican
The term of service is four years, beginning the first Monday of June 2023 until the first Monday of June 2027.
This is the first majority-Democrat board in seven years. 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 Moore is a Democrat, Democrats 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.
The minority party – in this case, the Republican party – got to nominate two members to the board. Each political party also got to nominate one substitute member. Substitute members vote in the absence of members of their party.
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.
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.
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.
Naimon, Koroma and Hoeber were unanimously voted to their leadership positions Monday. Hoeber, Naimon, Vincent and Dillon, who was previously vice president, are beginning returning terms on the board. The board also voted to renew board attorney Kevin Karpinski’s contract. Karpinski has served in the role since 2003.
Morella gave the keynote address. Other speakers included County Executive Marc Elrich (D), Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson (D-Dist. 1), Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Dist. 17), Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Dist. 20) and Board of Elections Director Boris Brajkovic.
Naimon previously served as the secretary of the new board. In his remarks, he acknowledged the diversity of the board and said two members are under the age of 35, four members are women, two members are immigrants, three are the children of immigrants, and three graduated from Montgomery County Public Schools.
Naimon said he chose Morella, a Republican who represented Montgomery County in Congress from 1987 to 2003, as keynote speaker to highlight the importance of bipartisan work. While members of the Board of Elections are chosen through their party affiliation, they must work as a nonpartisan board and cannot make political endorsements. Naimon said he has enjoyed working together with his Republican colleagues and will continue to.
“While we will disagree from time to time, sometimes vehemently, I urge everyone not to confuse passion for one’s beliefs with partisanship. I have many strong beliefs about elections, like my strong support for improving pay and working conditions for our staff. That should not be partisan,” Naimon said in his remarks. “Law requires us to go through a partisan process to be appointed to this board. But once we’re here, we’re not allowed to take sides in elections and are required to put the board’s interests over partisan interests and use our personal best judgment to represent everyone.”
Morella said it is important to work across party lines to ensure the function of democracy. She cited Democrat colleagues she worked with to pass legislation, such as Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).
“Get to know people to know the people you work with. Engage with them to let them know who you are and what you stand for,” Morella said. “And you can have differences, and you can find that there are some things you agree with. Then we don’t have that horrible political polarization that we seem to see all around us.”