On January 2 the Ventura County Star published this article by Tony Biasotti profiling Phil Schmidt, who is retiring as registrar of voters for Ventura County after 22 years of county employment. According to the article, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors is considering whether to convert the registrar's position from an elected to an appointed one.
Schmidt wisely has advised the board to keep it elected, saying, "The person who’s running the election should be accountable to the voters.” The article also points out that Schmidt oversaw the county's switch from punch cards to optical scan voting machines, noting that by not moving an all-electronic voting system (as many other counties did in the period during Schmidt's tenure), the county saved $20 million.
These two facts are not unrelated. The truth is that nearly all of the counties that bought all-electronic systems had election departments run by appointed registrars of voters, who had a great deal of influence in the counties' decisions to buy electronic voting machines. From my observation, Mr. Schmidt is correct -- in the case of the electronic voting machine debacle, having county registrars of voters elected, rather than appointed by boards of supervisors made a huge difference.