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Election directors everywhere have a joke, Stuart Harvey said.

“We don’t care who wins, we just want them to win big. We like large margins.”

Close races are the bane of every election official, said Harvey, the Frederick County election director who announced his retirement this week.

He leaves after 31 years in elections work, including the role of the county election director since July 2002.

Harvey said his favorite part of the job was working with the staff, the Board of Elections, the 800 to 900 people who helped with early voting, and other people involved with the elections process.

Since arriving in the county in 2002, Harvey said his office has been involved in two elections every two years, plus supporting the city of Frederick elections in 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017. They also provide support to other municipal elections.

Barbara Wagner, who has worked with the elections office during the 2018 and 2020 elections, began as interim director on Wednesday.

The Frederick County Board of Elections will hire the county’s new election director.

Harvey said that after spending more than three decades in the world of election procedure, it’s been “troubling” to watch people try to question the legitimacy of elections.

Election officials are absolutely committed to maintaining the legitimacy of the elections they oversee, and they just want to ensure a smooth, accurate count, Harvey said.

Harvey said he doesn’t think most people realize how few people are actually involved in working on elections.

When Harvey arrived in the county, he oversaw a full-time staff of six. Now it’s nine, and they basically work around the clock during election time, he said.

And with voter registration ongoing, helping with other elections and helping with legislative redistricting, they start planning for the next election basically as soon as the last one is over.

For now, he’s taking a vacation. Then he’ll decide what’s next.

“After 31 years, I’m going to take a breath before I jump into anything right away,” Harvey said.