Michael Morsch, a former reporter and editor for local newspapers, has been hired to lead the county's Voter Services Department.

Commissioner Leslie Richards, who chairs the Election Board, said Morsch's record of unbiased service and experience with deadline pressure would serve him well in running nonpartisan elections.

The commissioners sparked a political controversy in April when they fired longtime Voter Services Director Joe Passarella, a Republican, and installed as interim director Michael Paston, a Democratic ally who at the time was managing the county's printing and archival department.

The shakeup threatened to cast a shadow over the May 22 primary elections, but by all accounts they went off without a hitch.  Paston has since moved over to the county clerk's office.

Morsch's experience in journalism, Richards said, shows "an ability to be objective. ... His personality is just perfect – very level-headed, able to act responsibly in crisis situations or situations with very tight deadlines."

It also gives him an edge in dealing with the public and the press, and in continuing the transition to an increasingly digital world for elections, voter registration and reporting of results, Richards said.

Morsch formerly served as executive editor of Montgomery Newspapers, Editor of the Norristown Times-Herald, and production and regional editor for newspapers in Illinois.  He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1982 with a B.S. in journalism.

His salary was set at $75,000.

He also sits on the board of directors for the Eastern Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.