Who Runs Our Elections?

This page compiles, state-by-state, the local offices who are responsible for administering elections at the county and municipal level.

Each state’s system is laid out in some detail—including officials’ power, and their method of selection or the timing of their elections—within the limits of what is possible to convey in one database. In many states, the internal inconsistency is so stark that a full accounting needs a specialized database specific to that state. Bolts will continue to dig into these details.

The research was conducted by Quinn Yeargain, who also wrote this article introducing this compilation.

This database focuses on who oversees the conduct of the election, from the voter registration process to the casting and processing of ballots. The tabulation, canvassing, and certification of results is often conducted in a separate process that may or may not involve the same administrators. Bolts will dig into that process in future work.

Note: Officials who are part of the criminal legal system play a decisive role in gate-keeping access to the ballot. Most county jails are run by sheriffs, who control whether the people who are detained there, and who are often eligible to vote, actually can access ballots. (In some states, another official like a warden runs the jail.) County prosecutors are also relevant since they affect who gets stripped of the right to vote, and who regains it or is punished for trying. This page does not include those officials because you can find information about when and how prosecutors and sheriffs are selected here.

Alabama

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Probate Judge

(or, in their absence or refusal, the Judge of the County Circuit Court)
Probate judges are counties’ chief elections officials, in charge of running elections.

They also chair the appointing board for precinct-level election officials, alongside the sheriff (see below) and county clerk.
Probate judges & judges of the county circuit court are each elected to six-year terms (next election 2024).
County Board of RegistrarsThese boards supervise voter registration in their county.They are appointed by the governor, auditor, and commissioner of agriculture (with some exceptions).
SheriffsSheriffs are charged with preserving “good order” at all election precincts. Sheriffs are also part of the appointing board for precinct-level election officials, alongside the judge of probate (see above) and county clerk. Since sheriffs run jails (like in most states in the country), they also have immense control over whether eligible voters detained there actually have access to ballots.They are elected to four-year terms, in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022).

Alaska

What do they do?How are they selected?
Election SupervisorElection supervisors assist the state director of elections with administering elections; they also appoint precinct-level election boards.They are appointed by the state director of elections, a position that is itself appointed by the lieutenant governor.

Arizona

What do they do?How are they selected?
County RecorderRecorders supervise elections and voter registration. They commonly appoint county elections directors to run day-to-day operations.They are elected to four-year terms, in the presidential cycle (e.g. 2024).
County Director of ElectionsDirectors of elections run the day-to-day operations of the county elections department.They are appointed by the county recorder, or the board of supervisors. They may serve across the terms of several recorders.

Arkansas

What do they do?How are they selected?

County Board of Election Commissioners
Boards supervise the conduct of elections.They have three members: Two of them are appointed by the party that controls the majority of Arkansas’s statewide offices, and the third is appointed by the minority party. (As a result, all boards currently have a Republican majority on them.)
County Clerk,

or the County Circuit Court Clerk (in counties that do not have a county clerk)
Clerks supervise vote-by-mail and early voting, and manage county voter registration.County clerks (where they exist) and county circuit court clerks are both elected to four-year terms, in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022).

California

What do they do?How are they selected?
Registrars of VotersSome counties have set up a registrar of voters to take charge of registering voters and serve as their chief election official. They include: Alameda, Amador, Imperial, Kings, Lake, Marin, Merced, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Solano, Trinity, Tulare.Where they exist, registrars are appointed by their county’s board of supervisors. (Note: these counties typically still have a county clerk, but the clerk is not the chief elections official.)
County ClerksIn counties without a registrar, the county clerk fulfills the same functions.Clerks are usually elected, typically in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022). But some counties appoint their clerks through their board of supervisors (notably Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento)

Colorado

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Clerk and RecorderThese officials oversee voter registration administer elections in their county.They are elected to four-year terms, typically in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022).

Connecticut

What do they do?How are they selected?
Board for Admission of ElectorsThese boards supervise voter registration in their municipality.These boards can have different configurations. They can be a combination of the elected municipal clerk, the elected members of the city council, and/or the registrars of voters (see below).
Registrars of VotersRegistrars of voters serve as their town’s chief election officials.

There are at least two per municipality: They are partisan registrars, and they are responsible for running their own party’s primaries. They may assist people in the voter registration process. In some towns, they also serve on the board for admission of electors (see above).
They are elected per municipality to two-year terms, on even years (e.g. 2022); the winners are the top two finishers from different parties.

Delaware

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Director of ElectionsDirectors of elections run the day-to-day operations of the county elections department.They are appointed by the county recorder.

District of Columbia

What do they do?How are they selected?
Board of ElectionsThe three-member board supervises the administration of elections and oversees voter registration.Members are appointed by the mayor, with the approval of the city council, to three-year terms. No two members may be of the same political party.

Florida

What do they do?How are they selected?
Supervisor of ElectionsSupervisors oversee registration and are in charge of running elections in their county (including, famously, to design ballots).They are elected for four-year terms in the presidential cycle (e.g. 2024), with some exceptions. The most populous county on a different cycle is Duval County, which votes the year before the presidential cycle (e.g. 2023).

Georgia

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Board of Elections (and Registration)One of two primary modes: The legislature has the authority to pass a local act creating a county board of elections (and registration). In counties that use this route: The boards administer the elections and supervise voter registration in their county.

Note: Following legislation passed by the GOP legislature in 2021, the state board of elections has the power to “take over” a county board of elections if it determines that it has acted improperly; a temporary election superintendent is then appointed.
While each of these boards has a slightly different structure, the most common selection procedure is for each major political party to select two members of the Board, and then for the four members to choose the fifth member (who is usually also the chair).
Election Superintendent (also known as the county probate judge),

plus the County Board of Registrars
If the legislature has not created such a board for a given county, Georgia law defaults to a two-way role distribution: 

1. The county probate judge serves as election superintendent, and administers elections in the county.

2. A board of registrars takes care of voter registration in the county.
County probate judges are elected in counties to four-year terms, on a staggered schedule.

Boards of registrars are appointed by the county’s superior court judge (or, in counties with more than one, by the senior-most judge in counties). Superior court judges are elected to four-year terms, also on a staggered schedule.

Hawai’i

What do they do?How are they selected?
County ClerkClerks supervise voter registration in the county, and act as the chief elections official.They are appointed by the council of each of their counties.

Idaho

What do they do?How are they selected?
County ClerkClerks supervise voter registration in the county, and act as the chief elections official.They are elected to four-year terms, in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022).

Illinois

What do they do?How are they selected?
County ClerkClerks supervise voter registration in the county, and act as the chief elections official.

A county-level exception: Peoria County has an Election Board fulfill this role (not its regular clerk).
They are elected to four-year terms, in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022).

Note: Peoria’s board members are appointed by the circuit court.
Municipal Board of Election CommissionersSelect municipalities, most notably Chicago, have set up municipal election commissions to handle election administration (instead of the county clerk).

For instance, while Chicago is part of Cook County, the county clerk handles election administration outside of the city limits and commissioners handle elections within city limits. (Other cities with this structure are: Bloomington, Danville, East St Louis, Galesburg, and Rockeford.)
The board commissioners are appointed either by the circuit court or the chair of the county board.

Indiana

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Board of ElectionsEvery county has a board of elections that administers elections.

In a few counties (Lake and Tippecanoe), the board of elections also supervises voter registration and is known as the board of elections and registration.
These boards have three members: the circuit court clerk is always a member, and appoints the other two members (one from the two major parties in the county).
Board of RegistrationBoards of registration only exist in some counties; where they do, they have the power to oversee voter registration. Note: In other places, those duties are typically fulfilled by the circuit court clerk (below), and occasionally by the board of elections.Where they exist, these boards have two members, one each appointed by the chairs of the major political parties in the county.
Circuit Court ClerkClerks exist throughout Indiana, and they always sit on the county board of elections.

In counties that do not have a board of registration, they also fulfill those duties by supervising voter registration in the county.
They are elected in counties to four-year terms, typically (but not always) in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022).

Iowa

What do they do?How are they selected?
County AuditorAuditors supervise voter registration and serve as chief election officials in their county. (Note: Auditors are occasionally called the county commissioner of elections).They are elected in each county to four-year terms, in the presidential cycle (e.g. 2024).

Kansas

What do they do?How are they selected?
County ClerkClerks retain authority over election administration in counties under 130,000: They supervise voter registration and serve as chief election officials.They are elected in each county to four-year terms, in the presidential cycle (e.g. 2024).
County Elections CommissionersCommissioners exist in counties with a population above 130,000 (those are Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Wyandotte): They supervise voter registration and serve as chief election officials.They are appointed by the Kansas secretary of state.

Kentucky

What do they do?How are they selected?
County ClerkClerks run most of their county’s voter registration process.Clerks are elected to four-year terms in the state’s gubernatorial cycle (i.e. the year before the presidential cycle, such as 2023).
County Board of ElectionsThese boards supervise the administration of elections, have the final authority over matters linked to voter registration in a county, and supervise the administration of elections.They are composed of the elected county clerk, the elected sheriff, and two members appointed by the state board of elections (one from a list of five names submitted by each county party).

Note: The sheriff is elected every four years, in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022); the clerk is elected the year after (e.g. 2023).

Louisiana

What do they do?How are they selected?
Parish Registrar of VotersRegistrars supervise voter registration in a parish.A registrar is appointed by each parish’s governing authority.
Parish Board of Election SupervisorsThese boards administer elections in their parish. (The clerk, one of the board’s members, is mentioned by statute as having a heightened role in election administration.)A board is made up of: the appointed registrar of voters, the elected clerk of court, the appointed chairs of each parish’s recognized political parties, and one member appointed by the governor.

(Note: The clerk of court is elected to four-year terms in gubernatorial election years, i.e. the year before the presidential cycle, such as 2023.)

Maine

What do they do?How are they selected?
Municipal ClerkClerks serve as a municipality’s chief election official and oversee voter registration.They are elected in some municipalities and appointed by boards in others.

Maryland

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Board of ElectionsBoards supervise voter registration and administer the election process in a county.They are made up of five members appointed by the governor (three of which are of the governor’s party, two of which are of the opposing party), chosen from a list of nominees provided by county parties. Terms start June after a gubernatorial election.

Massachusetts

What do they do?How are they selected?
Municipal ClerkClerks are the chief election officials. They also supervise the registration process alongside a board of registrars. (Note: The municipalities that have set up a commission are an exception to this structure.)They are elected in some municipalities, appointed in others.
Board of RegistrarsThese boards oversee the registration process alongside clerks. (Note: The municipalities that have set up a commission are an exception to this structure.)They are made up of the clerk and three members appointed by the mayor with the aldermen’s advice and consent.
Municipal Election CommissionSome municipalities (the largest of which is Springfield) have set up these commissions to supervise voter registration in the city and administer elections.These commissions are appointed by city officials (the appointing authority may vary per city).

Michigan

What do they do?How are they selected?
Municipal ClerksClerks serve as the chief election officials and oversee voter registration in their city, township, or village.

Note: Michigan also has County Election Commissioners, tasks with discrete duties such as providing ballots and clarifying language for recall positions.
They are appointed (by mayor or council) or elected (to terms of differing lengths in different years). There is no consistent pattern between jurisdictions.

Minnesota

What do they do?How are they selected?
County AuditorAuditors serve as the chief election official and oversee voter registration in their county.They are elected in most counties for four-year terms in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022).

Mississippi

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Election CommissionThese commissions administer elections.Each county’s commission is made up of five members, each popularly elected in the county’s board-of-supervisor districts for a four-year term. In three out of five districts, the elections are on presidential cycles, such as 2024; in two out of five districts, in the state’s gubernatorial cycles, such as 2023.
Registrar of Elections

(also known as Circuit Court Clerk)
Clerks supervise voter registration in their county.They are elected in each county to four-year terms during the state’s gubernatorial cycles (i.e. the year before the presidential cycle, such as 2023).

Missouri

What do they do?How are they selected?
Board of Election CommissionersThese boards administer elections and oversee voter registration in counties that are eligible to have them (e.g. Jackson, St. Louis, and St. Louis City).They are made up of four members who are appointed by the governor, two from each major political party (dates of terms depend on each county).
County ClerksClerks fulfill the board’s duties in counties that do not have a board.They are elected to four-year terms, in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022).

Montana

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Clerk and RecorderThese officials serve as chief election officials and supervise voter registration in each county.They are elected or appointed to four-year terms in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022)

Nebraska

What do they do?How are they selected?
Election Commissioner,

or County Clerk
Whichever of these two officials is in charge takes care of election administration at the local level.In counties above 100,000, an election commissioner is appointed by the governor to four-year terms.

In counties between 20,000 and 100,000, an election commissioner position may be created by the county board (who would then appoint the commissioner). Otherwise, the county clerk (elected in the midterm cycle in these counties, such as 2022) fulfills these duties.

In counties under 20,000, the county clerk (elected in the midterm cycle in these counties, such a 2022), administers the election.

Nevada

What do they do?How are they selected?
Registrar of VotersClark and Washoe counties have set up a registrar of voters to handle election administration and voter registration. (Other counties cannot do so because they do not meet the population threshold of 100,000 residents.)The registrar is appointed by the counties’ elected county commissions.
County ClerkIn other counties: The county clerk serves as the chief election official and supervises voter registration. (Washoe and Clark do have a clerk that does not handle those duties.)Clerks are elected to four-year terms, in the midterm cycle.

New Hampshire

What do they do?How are they selected?
Municipal ClerkClerks serve as a municipality’s chief election official. They also supervise voter registration there (except in cities with a board of registrar).Clerks are appointed or elected. In most cities, the clerk is elected by the city council. In most towns, the clerk is elected to one-year or three-year terms.
Boards of RegistrarsIn a few cities, including Nashua, there is a Boards that supervises the voter registration process.Board members, where they exist, are appointed by the mayor and council.

New Jersey

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Board of ElectionsThese boards administer elections in each county.These boards have four members. In practice, the Democratic and Republican Parties each nominate two members.
County Commissioner of RegistrationCommissioners supervise voter registration in the county.A commissioner corresponds to one of two institutions.

In select counties, it is a superintendent of elections, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate.

In the remaining counties, it is the secretary of the county board, appointed by the board.
County ClerkClerks supervise vote-by-mail requests and distributions.Clerks are elected by counties to five-year terms, on a staggered schedule.

New Mexico

What do they do?How are they selected?
County ClerkClerks serve as chief election officials and supervise voter registration in the county.Clerks are elected to four-year terms, in the presidential cycle (e.g. 2024).

New York

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Board of ElectionsThese boards serve as chief election officials and supervise voter registration in the county.Parties appoint commissioners in equal amounts, though the number of board members varies by county.

North Carolina

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Board of ElectionsThese boards serve as chief election officials and supervise voter registration in the county.They have five members. Four are appointed by the state board of elections (two from each party, after recommendations from the parties) to two-year terms. The fifth is appointed by the governor, in the summer of odd-numbered years. (So the governor’s party has a majority on boards.)
County Director of Elections Directors run the day-to-day operations of the board. They are appointed by the board.

North Dakota

What do they do?How are they selected?

County Auditor
Auditors are the chief elections officials and supervise voter registration in the county.They are elected to a four-year term in nonpartisan races (in the midterm cycle, e.g. in 2022), or else appointed by the county commission.

Ohio

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Board of ElectionsThese boards supervise the administration of elections and voter registration in their county.They have four members, two from each party, who are appointed by the secretary of state. Timing-wise, two each are appointed to four-year terms in March of odd-numbered years, e.g. two in March 2021 and two in March 2023).

Oklahoma

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Election BoardThese boards supervise elections and supervise voter registration in their county.Boards are made up of three members who are appointed by the state election board. The state board appoints one member from each major party, nominated by the county parties, plus a county board secretary.

(The state election board has a similar structure of three members, two from the largest political party by registration, one from the next largest, appointed by the governor.)

Oregon

What do they do?How are they selected?
County ClerkIn many counties, clerks serve as chief election officials and supervise voter registration in their county. (Exceptions in the following row.)They are elected in most counties to four-year terms in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022); in some counties the clerk is appointed by the board of county commissioners.
Director of ElectionsSome counties have abolished clerks; there, a director of elections serves as chief election official and supervises voter registration in their county.They are appointed by the board of county commissioners.

Pennsylvania

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Board of Elections and RegistrationThese boards supervise voter registration and serve as the chief election officials in a county.In most counties: The county’s three-member regular county commission is coterminous with its county board of election. (A wrinkle: If board members are themselves a candidate for election in a given cycle, the elected president judge of the county court of common pleas appoints a replacement for them.)

In home rule counties (Allegheny, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Northampton, and Philadelphia), the pattern is different since counties adopt other government structures than a county commission. As a result, the board of elections is drawn in different ways from the county’s legislative body or else elected directly. For instance, the board of elections and registration in Allegheny County is made up of the county executive and the two at-large city council members; in Philadelphia, they are elected in mayoral election years (e.g. 2023).
District Election BoardsDistrict election boards manage election day conduct in precincts/districts.Each board consists of three members (a judge and two inspectors) who are elected by voters in each precinct (in Pennsylvania called “district”). The top two candidates for inspector of different parties both serve. Vacancies are common due to no one running for a seat; in this case, the county court appoints replacements.

Rhode Island

Though elections are canvassed by local canvassing boards in Rhode Island, all election administration is centralized in the state board of elections.

South Carolina

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Board of Voter Registration and ElectionsThese boards supervise the conduct of elections and supervise voter registration in a county.The governor appoints between five and nine members on the recommendation of legislators from the county, at least one of whom must be from a different party than other members (appointed to four-year terms, staggered every two years).

South Dakota

What do they do?How are they selected?
County AuditorAuditors supervise voter registration and serve as the chief election officials in each county.They are elected to four-year terms, in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022).

Tennessee

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Election CommissionThese commissions supervise voter registration in a county, and also supervise elections through the appointment of the administrator.They are each made up of five members appointed by the state election commission. Three are members of the party with a majority in the legislature, two are members of the party in the minority.
County Administrator of ElectionsThese administrators oversee day-to-day operations of the office and run elections.They are appointed by the county election commission.

Texas

What do they do?How are they selected?
County Elections AdministratorMany counties have set up an appointed elections administrator. (It’s up their county commissioners’ court.) These administrators supervise voter registration and serve as chief election officials in their county. About a third of counties have this model as of January 2022, including the majority of the state’s most populous counties.Where they exist, administrators are appointed by a county election commission, which is made up of the county judge (equivalent of the head of the county), clerk, tax assessor-collector, and county chairs of each party.
County Clerk

and/or County Tax Assessor-Collector

(and/or, rarely, County Sheriff)
Elsewhere, the tasks of election administration are divided (in different ways) between the county clerk and the tax-assessor-collector. The default is for the former to handle the conduct of elections, and for the latter to supervise voter registration, but the roles can be swapped or distributed differently.

Roles may be shuffled by the county commissioners’ court. An additional wrinkle: In some counties under 10,000, sheriffs take on the duties of tax assessors; they have roles as election administrators in nine counties (Borden, Foard, Hartley, Jeff Davis, Kent, Loving, Mason, San Saba, Shackelford). Here, as in many places, sheriffs also manage jails and so access to the ballot for people detained there.
They are elected by counties for four-year term, in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022)

Tax assessor-collectors are elected in the presidential cycle (e.g. 2024), as are sheriffs.

Utah

What do they do?How are they selected?
County ClerkClerks supervise voter registration and serve as chief election official in each county.They are elected by counties to four-year terms, in the presidential cycle (e.g. 2024)

Vermont

What do they do?How are they selected?
Board of Civil AuthorityThese boards supervise the administration of elections.The municipal aldermen, clerks, and justices are ex officio members.
Municipal ClerkClerks supervise voter registration in each municipality.They are either elected or appointed (by town selectboard).

Virginia

What do they do?How are they selected?
Electoral BoardThese boards supervise the administration of elections.Members are appointed in each county/independent city by the chief judge of the applicable judicial circuit (the chief judge is elected by legislature).
General RegistrarRegistrars supervise voter registration in their municipality.They are appointed by the local electoral board.

Washington

What do they do?How are they selected?
County AuditorAuditors supervise registration in each county and serve as chief election officials.They are elected to four-year terms, usually in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022). King County (Seattle) elects the following year (e.g. 2023).

West Virginia

What do they do?How are they selected?
County ClerkClerks serve as a county’s chief election officials and supervise registration in each county.They are elected to six-year terms (next elections are in 2022).
County Board of Ballot CommissionersThese boards print ballots for each election,These boards have three members: The county clerk serves as ex officio member, and both political parties name one member.

Wisconsin

What do they do?How are they selected?
County ClerkCounty clerks serve as the chief election officer of the county; produces ballots; participates in voter education and election worker training.They are elected to four-year terms, in the presidential cycle (e.g. 2024). Note: In Milwaukee County, the clerk doesn’t have this role but serves as executive director of the board of election.
Municipal ClerkMunicipal clerks serve as the chief election officers and supervise registration in their municipality.They are elected or appointed (by mayor, mayor with council’s approval, or by the council). In Milwaukee, this role is filled by the city’s board of election.
(Milwaukee) County Board of Election Commission

(Milwaukee) Municipal Board of Election Commissioners
These boards exist in Milwaukee City and County.

The municipal board replaces the municipal clerk in election administration; the county clerk serves as executive director of the county board.
The county board has three members appointed by the county executive. (Two are from the party that has received the most votes for governor within the county, one from the next-highest party.) Note: The county clerk serves as executive director of the board, though is not a voting member.

The city board has three members appointed by the county board of election commissioners, subject to the same rules as above, with an executive director appointed by the mayor.

Wyoming

What do they do?How are they selected?
County ClerkClerks serve as chief election officials and supervise registration in their county.They are elected to four-year terms, in the midterm cycle (e.g. 2022).