The registered voters of Dauphin County elect the following public officials for four year terms: three County Commissioners, District Attorney, Treasurer, Prothonotary, Coroner, Clerk of Courts, Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, Sheriff, Controller and Recorder of Deeds. With the exception of the commissioners, these public officials are frequently referred to as "row officers."
The term "row office" originated in the 1800s. The offices of county officials were situated in a row on the ground floor of a long corridor in the courthouse. Over time, record keeping and county services became complex and required more space than a string of offices in a hallway. However, the term "row officer" stuck and continues to be used today when referring to elected public officials who serve the county.
Row officers record and maintain official public records; collect taxes, fees and court-imposed fines; aid in the administration of justice and perform many other county-related public service functions. Frequently used services include obtaining passports, marriage licenses, death certificates, dog and hunting licenses and gun permits.