By Claudia Vargas

City Commissioner Anthony Clark, who failed to vote for four years, will once again serve as chairman of the three-member board that oversees Philadelphia elections.

The election of Clark came as a surprise to some political insiders who surmised that newcomer Lisa Deeley would become chair.

Commissioner Al Schmidt, the board's only Republican, nominated Clark, saying continuity is important for the board, especially when facing what he called "the challenges of a presidential general election" this year.

Clark has served as chairman for the last few years but has come under scrutiny for not voting between 2011 and 2014 and for not having a visible presence in the office.

Deeley, who replaces Stephanie Singer as commissioner, was present but did not vote on the decision to keep Clark as chairman.

"I wasn't here but . . . I know of the climate of chaos and I did not want to continue that," Deeley said referencing Clark's lack of presence in City Hall.

Clark dismissed his attendance issue by saying that he is in the office if he has an appointment to meet with someone.

"As an elected official, you get called to do different things. You're not just sitting at the desk. This is a world of technology, I'm always in communication," he said.

As for his voting record in the last few years, he said he exercised his right under the Constitution.

"I'm an American. Under the Constitution there is no mandatory voting in America," Clark said. "If any member as part of this board gets into a situation where they can't vote that's their personal choice that has nothing to do with the running of the office."

As chair, Clark has a salary of $138,612, while Deeley and Schmidt will earn $129,373 each.

(c)2016 The Philadelphia Inquirer