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.

Program Certification

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.

  • City Clerks
  • City Secretaries
  • County Clerks
  • County Recorders
  • Election Administrators
  • Election Comissioners
  • Election Directors
  • Election Supervisors
  • Elector Board members
  • International Election Observers
  • State Election Directors
  • Secretaries of State
  • Voter Registrars
  • Voting Technology Vendors
  • Student Stories

    Our CERA and CERV graduates approach election administration and voter registration from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Take a look as our students share their own story and experiences in our professional certification program.

    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.

    Our Curriculum

    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.

    1. Introduction to Election and Voter Registration Systems Administration
    2. Management and Leadership Concepts in Election and Voter Registration Administration
    3. Strategic Planning and Budgeting
    4. Election Information Access and Security
    5. Ethics in Election and Voter Registration Administration
    6. Communications and Public Relations
    7. Enhancing Voter Participation
    8. Implementing New Programs
    9. History III: 1965 to the Present
    10. Constitutional Law of Elections
    11. History I: Ancients to 1781
    12. History II: 1781 to Modern Era

    Our Instructors

    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.