Katy, TX 77450
Phone: (281) 396-4309
The Election Center is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization under the regulations of the Internal Revenue Service. The Election Center's purpose is to promote, preserve, and improve democracy. The Center is also known as the National Association of Election Officials.
Our members are almost exclusively government employees whose profession is to serve in voter registration and elections administration, i.e., voter registrars, elections supervisors, elections directors, city clerk/city secretaries, county clerks, county recorders, state legislative staff, state election directors and Secretaries of States.
The Center provides its members an alert service which informs and updates state, city and other elections and voter registration officials regarding legislation, regulations, court decisions, and Justice Department rulings which affect the conduct of voter registration or elections administration. Additionally, the Center performs research for such governmental units concerning the similarities and differences in state or local laws, regulations, or practices concerning voter registration and elections administration.
As the election profession's premier organization for training and certification of election and voter registration administrators, The Center also conducts annual events such as national conferences and several regional workshops and seminars throughout each year which are designed specifically for government elections units. Each of these programs is designed to improve the methods of operation and efficiency of the affected offices. The result is improved service to voters, the public, the taxpayers and to government. The Center trains between 600 and 1,000 election and voter registration administrators every year.
Continuing professional education is the cornerstone of continuous improvement of democracy through The Election Center's Professional Education Program. A joint effort of The Center and Auburn University's public administration faculty, the Professional Education Program offers college level instruction for professional growth and development of government officials in the elections and voter registration process. These classes are conducted in several locations throughout each year. The Professional Education Program won an award as the most outstanding continuing education program in America from the National College and University Continuing Education Association (1995).
The Center sponsors an annual Professional Practices contest to get government officials to submit a professional paper on the best of their office programs and practices. Such papers are then duplicated and made available to government officials throughout the U.S. for improving their own operations.
Acting as a catalyst for new ideas or working with difficult issues, it was through The Election Center:
- That state directors of elections formed the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) and served as an incubator for NASED until the organization could operate on its own (1989).
- That the nation's elections administrators developed the first Code of Ethics for voter registrars and elections administrators (1997).
- That the United States Postal Service created the only logo for any mailer outside of the USPS itself. The national Elections Mail Logo identifies for voters and for postal employees official mail related to citizens participation in the democratic process.
- That the USPS and the elections community created the National Task Force on Postal Issues and an elections mail program that significantly improves the ability of election offices to reach voters with mail and to lower mail costs to state and local jurisdictions.
- That created the National Task for on Voting Accessibility, a joint effort of the elections community and the disability community, to improve the ability of the nation's disabled and elderly to participate unassisted in voting, and to improve voting technology for such citizens.
- That formed the National Task Force on Election Reform which was a report of the nation's elections administrators on problems and solutions related to Election 2000.
- The Election Center is the principal focus for the U.S. Congress, federal agencies and state governments related to the elections and voter registration issues.
- That has trained the elections officials of developing nations.
- That serves as the best single source for news and information organizations concerning elections.
A small professional staff is maintained to develop and administer these programs and to provide research services for members, legislators, local, state and federal elections officials. Research projects can involve in-depth surveys of major issues or specific portions of laws affecting voter registration and elections.
The Center's members also include suppliers of election products and services, including voting systems, voter registration software, voting booths, ballots, election supplies, etc. Members are able to visit with the providers of those goods and services at the national conference where members can learn what is available in the latest technology and election products.
With more than 1,350 members nationwide, the Election Center has the largest number of the state and local election and voter registration administrators as well as election vendors as members of any elections related organization in America
Our Program History
There was a time when the administration of elections and voter registration was a straight forward, relatively simple matter of occasionally organizing election workers, maintaining registration lists, and holding periodic elections. That time is no longer. Civil rights concerns (racial, ethnic, disabilities, language minorities) as well as a variety of other considerations ranging from increasing participation to the demands of modern technology have forever and radically altered the nature of the elections/registration process. As a result, thoughtful election and registration officials have come to believe that this profession is one that requires expert, trained administrators who understand the subtleties of the myriad of factors now making the administration of the elections process a specialty for which specific knowledge and abilities are essential.
The result of those concerns was the development of the nation's first and only professional certification program for election and voter registration professionals. The program began with four courses being offered at The Election Center's 1992 Annual National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 1994, The Election Center has offered professional certification as Certified Election Registration Administrator (CERA) status. CERA designation is the highest achievement for those in the elections profession. Earning, and more importantly, maintaining CERA status means a commitment to a career-long process of continuing professional education.
Election 2000 established in the public's mind just how complex the elections process could be. Election 2004 demonstrated how important the voter registration process is and its potential to affect participation as well as administration. It is clear that Congressional and state legislative leadership have focused on our profession more than in any other period in American history. Political leadership at all levels is insisting on more training and better administration of the entire process. In 1992, The Election Center invited Auburn University in Alabama to forge an alliance to dramatically improve election administration. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Dr. Robert Montjoy and the faculty of Auburn's Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program. The election community's gratitude to the founders of this program and to the faculty of the MPA Program at Auburn University is overwhelming. Ernie Hawkins, Carol Garner and Tom Wilkey accepted the challenge of developing courses specific to the voter registration and election administration profession.
The Election Center continues to develop new advanced Professional Education Program courses that help election professionals continue to grow and develop in their profession. Since specific degree programs in elections/registration administration have not been developed, the establishment of a program providing professional education for practitioners in the field has become very important. During this process, which involved representatives of the academic sector, election and registration officials from the local level, members of The Election Center, and the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), numerous possibilities were examined. The Election Center's Professional Education Program presents the approach developed through that process. A foundation of high-quality educational courses in the core skills required for modern elections/registration administration was clearly necessary and that dedication to excellence is now the basis of the current program.
The Election Center's Professional Education Program was designed and coordinated with Auburn University. The involvement of an institution of higher education and the application of academic discipline to the planning and implementation gives The Election Center's Certification Program a level of credibility unequaled by other certification programs. Because of our relationship with Auburn University, our program participants have the opportunity to gain continuing education units through an academic institution as well as a certification of professional excellence through The Election Center's Certified Elections Registration Administrator (CERA) Program that makes the program the most significant of its kind. Auburn University is the only university in the country that offers a Graduate Certificate in Election Administration as a concentration in the Masters of Public Administration Program.
In the aftermath of Election 2000, we also decided that we needed to include training and certification for those manufacturers and suppliers of election administration goods and services. We added a new program beginning in 2001 for Certified Elections Registration Vendor (CERV). The core course work is the same (currently) as that for the CERA program with the intent being to prepare elections and registration vendors with the kinds of issues, decisions, and processes that are faced by today's elections professionals. The CERV program is also aimed to developing better- prepared suppliers who subscribe to the same principles and standards shared with elections professionals. Eventually, the CERV program will add courses specific to the improvement of goods and services offered and delivered to the elections community. CERA status is reserved for those who are government employees serving in the profession, the CERV program is for employees of election and registration suppliers.
Beginning in 2007, the Election Center included a training and certification program for individuals that observe elections internationally. The new certification designation was named Certified Elections Monitor (CEM). Our first international student from India graduated as the first CEM in 2008.