Watauga County officials have been given the go-ahead to hire their controversial choice for elections director. But the state's approval came with some advice.

The State Board of Elections has approved the appointment of Matt Snyder as Watauga's elections director.

The county board nominated Snyder for the position earlier this month, but Democrats opposed the appointment. They complained that Snyder, the former county GOP chairman from 2011 to 2013, lacked credentials for the job and was hired without a formal search.

In a letter to the board Monday, State Elections Director Kim Strach says Snyder meets the legal qualifications for the job. She also says the county was not required to solicit applications for the position, a requirement that varies from county to county.

But Strach also reminded the board that Snyder must abstain from political activities, as required by state law. She says impartiality and sound judgment are critical qualities for every director of elections.

Snyder will replace longtime Watauga elections director Jane Ann Hodges, who is retiring in June. Snyder's term begins July 1.

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