Every city and town must have a board of registrars or election commission whose responsibilities include registering voters, making local listings of residents, certifying nomination papers and petitions, processing absentee voter applications, and administering election recounts. In most towns, the Board of Registrars is comprised of four members: three members appointed by the Board of Selectmen, and the Town Clerk acting as an ex officio member. The board must always contain, as nearly as possible, representatives of the two leading political parties as defined in Section 1 of Chapter 50 of the MGL and can contain no more than two members of each of those parties (MGL Chapter 51, section 18). The Town Clerk need not be enrolled in a political party. Registrars have overlapping terms. The Town Clerk automatically becomes a member of the board when sworn in to office.