Professional Education Program
The Nation's First Professional Certification Program for Election and Voter Registration Professionals
The Election Center's Professional Education Program (PEP), began with four courses being offered at the Election Center's 1992 Annual National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Several thoughtful election and registration officials recognized that this profession requires expert, trained administrators. 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.
Since 1994, the Election Center, in partnership with Auburn University in Alabama, has offered professional certification as Certified Elections/Registration Administrator (CERA) status. The Professional Education Program is the only program of continuing professional education which specializes in voter registration and elections administration. Participants receive continuing education units (CEUs) from Auburn University and Election Center credit towards the achievement of the profession's highest designation.
The program consists of two major parts. After completion of certain coursework and additional requirements, you can become a Certified Elections/Registration Administrator (CERA), a Certified Elections/Registration Vendor (CERV), or a Certified Elections Monitor (CEM). The CERA, CERV, or CEM designation is to be honored. To obtain and/or to maintain CERA, CERV, or CEM status will require a commitment and dedication to the highest professional standards and a commitment to continuing education.
The Professional Education Program is the only program of continuing professional education which specializes in voter registration and elections administration. Participants receive continuing education units (CEUs) from Auburn University and Election Center credit towards the achievement of the profession's highest designation.
CERA - Certified Elections Registration Administrator
CERV - Certified Elections Registration Vendor
CEM - Certified Elections Monitor
Our Program's Students
Our students serve in the interests of democracy abroad as international observers as well as represent the entire spectrum of roles, responsibilities and offices in each of the individual states, territories, and the District of Columbia within our own nation.
Our Curriculum Benefits
Our curriculum is theoretically and historically rich as well as practically relevant. Students obtain a comprehensive set of timely skills and working knowledge that fosters the development of core competencies immediately applicable within their profession.
Core Competences include:
- The ability to deconstruct and diagram the core functions of the electoral process into their constituent sub-systems and thereby benchmark, improve and compare procedures across jurisdictions.
- The ability to understand and apply management concepts that are specific to election administration in order to produce better outcomes for material and human resource utilization.
- The ability to strategically manage and apply budgeting techniques that result in quality improvement for elections and voter registration.
- The ability to properly evaluate and effectively manage the application of a variety of technologies to the processes and procedures in election administration and voter registration.
- The ability to identify the well reasoned foundational precepts which form the ethical basis governing their duties and obligation as Election Officials.
- The ability to measure voter participation and introduce methods to motivate and encourage greater voter registration and turnout.
- The ability to effectively communicate with the media, state legislatures, and local boards to maintain the critically needed budget and public support for the electoral process, voter outreach and other public relation purposes.
- The ability to understand how past legislative and historical developments have led to the current way we administer elections today as well as an increased capacity to better anticipate and appreciate how future changes are likely to impact future developments to the process.
Our Classroom Benefits
Our Conferences, Seminars and Special Workshops hosted around the country provide convenient locations for various schedules.
- The conference classroom environment provides the advantages of traditional learning with face to face interactions and active participation between faculty and students.
- The conference classroom environment promotes reciprocal interaction and communication with the professors during the lectures which is essential to an in-depth understanding of theoretical, historical and administrative material.
- In addition to enhancing the student's knowledge and retention of vital information, active communication between faculty and students can help improve student's interpersonal skills, boost their confidence and make them better communicators.
- The break out sessions with focused group activities help to reinforce lecture content and provide hands on learning with your election colleagues from around the country.
- In addition to the core curriculum, our Special Workshops provide students with keynote presentations and panel discussions from various experts. Our students learn from the very best in their field and stay current on the leading trends and topics impacting elections.
- The conference classroom environment provides the perfect venue for personal networking and professional relationship development with academic researchers, election administrators, voter registrars and voting technology vendors from around the country.
What our Graduates are Saying
For more than two decades our graduates have been answering the nation's need for educated, well-trained professionals who administer elections and voter registration in every corner of our country.
With more certified graduates than any other election administration program in the nation, our graduates continue to bring greater skill, commitment and expertise to the increasingly complex field of elections administration in the service of our democracy. Take a look below to see for yourself what our certification program has meant to them.
"Although I have been involved in election administration in one form or another for over 30 years, my participation in the CERA program has provided me with an invaluable framework for thinking about and creating processes that will better serve voters." - Raymond
from Washington, D.C.
"I must say that this Professional Education Program is a must have for all elections officials." - Art
"Thanks for the opportunity to better serve the citizens of my community and my county." - Sharon
"I am thankful to be a part of this great program and look forward to the continuing education it provides." -Steven
"It was my goal over the years to raise the bar for elections administration here in the Virgin Islands and CERA has helped me to accomplish that." - Raymond
from the Virgin Islands
"I have gained both a great amount of historical and current election knowledge from my experiences with the CERA program to make a true difference in not only my county, but throughout the State of Michigan." - Barb
"My understanding of the election process has grown immensely and I thank the CERA program for assisting with this." - Alex
"The CERA program was an awesome experience." - Kim
"Sharing stories and experiences with these officials has had a tremendous effect on how I run my local elections office." - Brian
"I feel like a much more purposeful elections administrator having completed the CERA program." -Nicholas
"John Locke stated: 'No man's knowledge can go beyond his experience' and CERA has given me both knowledge and experience that is irreplaceable." - Shauna
"Sharing stories and experiences with these officials has had a tremendous effect on how I run my local elections office." - Wes
"The confidence and knowledge I have obtained through taking these classes has been extremely beneficial both professionally and personally." - Brenda
"The CERA program taught me new ways to solve election related issues involving new technology, budgeting, poll worker training, and voter participation." - Angela
"With the knowledge that I have gained from the CERA program, I feel that I am better equipped to perform my duties as an election commissioner." - James
"This program was very well organized and full of knowledge from documentation, instructors, and election officials." - Tami
"I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to participate in the CERA program and the credibility it provides to myself and the industry as a whole." - Joseph
"The relationships formed during the program will better our efforts to uphold democracy for our citizens." - Ryan
"CERA has helped to elevate my involvement in the election process from a job to a profession." - Bryan
"It's a great resource to brainstorm with other election officials throughout the country that normally your paths would not cross. " - Steven
"CERA has allowed me to expand my knowledge of elections from the history of voting to new election technologies." - Robert
from New Jersey
"The classes have opened my eyes to the history behind my profession as well as where it is headed." - Tracie
from North Carolina
"Having this prestigious certification means reaching an education goal that few will accomplish." - Leslie
"The CERA program has truly challenged me and has made me realize, even more, that election works is a field in which I feel proud and inspired to work in." - Jenifer
"A great opportunity to learn and share best practices with colleagues across the nation." - Christi
"The CERA program has sharpened my skills, as well as provided me with the training and resources to further my level of authority in the field of Elections." - Colleen
"The program promotes openness, collaboration, friendship, and teamwork within the election administration field." - Kimberly
"The experience left no question that election administrators, regardless of political affiliation, are dedicated to conducting full, fair, and accurate elections in this country." - Randolph
"The Professional Education Program has taught me that we are in it together no matter the state or county." - Doreen
"The program and instructors are top-notch and the interactions with other state elections officials are invaluable." - Joanna
"The experience gained, professional friendships, and lessons learned will be a treasure for years to come." - Caroline
from the Virgin Islands
"The opportunity to collaborate and learn from election officials from all around the country is invaluable.." - Brandon
"I am so honored to be a member of the best election organization in the world." - Jennifer
Our total curriculum consist of over 30 courses with new courses added regularly. The 12 courses listed below form the academic basis of our certification programs. The completion of these core courses are required to gain your CERA, CERV or CEM certification. Read our Core Course Descriptions for more details.
- Introduction to Election and Voter Registration Systems Administration
- Management and Leadership Concepts in Election and Voter Registration Administration
- Strategic Planning and Budgeting
- Election Information Access and Security
- Ethics in Election and Voter Registration Administration
- Communications and Public Relations
- Enhancing Voter Participation
- Implementing New Programs
- History III: 1965 to the Present
- Constitutional Law of Elections
- History I: Ancients to 1781
- History II: 1781 to Modern Era
CERA, CERV and CEM instructors are from the Auburn University's Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program through the Department of Political Science which provides award winning faculty to teach classes in the Election Center's Professional Education Program in addition to providing research in elections-related performance measurement and extensive studies in the gathering and application of data relevant to all voter registration and elections administration activities.
These professional educators and specialists have been paired with skilled, seasoned elections/registration practitioners so that the course work developed is related directly to your professional needs. Additionally, as with the programs of our workshops and conferences, the Election Center gears its continuing education program to have more substance, more information directly related to your profession, than other groups and associations.