Professional Education Renewal Courses
Renewal Course Descriptions
To download a pdf version or to view offline a detailed descriptions of courses you may refer to the PEP Manual.
Visit the Core Courses pages for detailed descriptions of courses needed to obtain CERA status.
Please visit the Events Calender page to see what courses are coming up next.
Required to Renew CERA Status
Available Only to CERA/CERV/CEM Graduates
- The Policy Process
- Crisis Management
- Training in Elections
- Comparative Democracies
- Conflict Management
- Developments in State and National Election Law
- Federal Impact on Elections and Voter Registration: 1960's to present
- The Integrity of Elections
- Researching Election Administration
- Expanding the Franchise: Pathways to Participation & Professionalism
- Defining Democracy: Women's SUFFRAGE
- Election Administration Resource Management: Increasing Revenue and Understanding True Costs
- Measuring Performance to Tell Your Story - Because If You Don't, Someone Will Tell It for You
- Navigating Successful Change Management in Election Administration
- Using Surveys, Focus Groups, and Polling to Collect Information to Help Election Professionals
- Election Assessment: Tracking Performance across the Election Administration System
- Election Storytelling: Effective Use of Information about Operations and Finances
- Alternative Election Systems in the U.S.
- Election Administration Research Update
Today more than ever, election officials at all levels of government are becoming involved in the public policy process as new laws and regulations are proposed across the states and in Washington, DC. As election and registration officials, public policy affects what you do and how you do it. This course examines the policy process as a system of change within the American political environment that applies to all public policy decisions. The course looks at how you are affected and can affect various stages in the policy process - getting problems on the agenda, helping lay our rational alternatives to problems, impacting policy decisions and influencing policy adoption.
Crises come in many forms: natural disasters, last-minute changes in election law, failure of a key supplier, allegations of error or misconduct accompanied by media attention and political pressure, etc. This course draws upon the broader literature on risk management, disaster management, and crisis management to set up discussions of mitigation strategies for election administration. It examines the elements contributing to a crisis and effective decision-making processes to emerge out of a crisis situation relatively successfully.
Training is critical, not just for poll workers but for everyone in the elections process. This course draws upon recently published material on elections training, best practices, and existing knowledge of adult education to offer principles and examples applicable to election administration. This is a graduate class for the PEP program and participants will be expected to share their own experiences and actively participate in discussions and projects to employ training techniques appropriate for the various training situations in the administration of elections and voter registration.
Election officials acquire many goods and services from private vendors. The largest and most complicated contracts are usually for voting systems equipment and support. Successful procurement is affected by a variety of factors, such as governmental rules, funding decisions, and market conditions. The emphasis in this course is on the role of election officials and the factors that they can control or influence within the overall process.
There are many democracies in the world. Most of them do not hold elections in the same manner as the U.S. While people vote in all of them, the authorities that administer elections and the rules and procedures for calling elections, registering voters, voting, counting, and determining winners vary across nations. Alternatives include national election commissions, state-initiated registration, proportional representation, and the single transferable vote. This course will provide an overview of electoral systems around the world and discuss the implications of different systems for politics and administration where they are used.
The responsibilities of elections and voter registration officials take place in a high stress environment with demands and pressures from voters, candidates, legislators, media, and other government agencies. Most of those who interact with elections officials know little about the process of administering elections, the deadline pressures, the budget constraints and the staffing problems. Nevertheless, election officials are expected to be efficient, thorough, fair, open, understanding. In a given election cycle, candidates can err, voters can ignore instructions, the media can present inaccurate information, yet all parties expect election and voter registration administrators to perform flawlessly. This course discusses how to operate in such an environment where expectations are so high, buck-passing is rampant, and stress is maximized. It will focus on conflict management and how to take the regular crisis (and the really big one) of work in elections and handle them with professionalism, tact, and wisdom. The course will include a number of exercises to develop skills in active listening, communication, and conflict resolution.
The right to vote is a fundamental, constitutional guarantee evidencing an inchoate principle of democracy, to wit, an equal opportunity to participate in the making of public law. This course will be concerned with how the laws governing elections further or hinder the attainment of the democratic goal. Special attention will be devoted to the analysis of constitutional requirements and prohibitions applied to federal and state statutes.
A new wave of federal involvement in elections and voter registration is underway even though elections have historically been administered through local election officials. Behind the scenes, the role of the federal government is shaped by the American system of federalism and particular relationships between the federal government and the states. These relationships organize government in all areas of public policy and will shape the federal role in elections in the future. This course examines the forces that shape federal involvement in election administration and voter registration with a focus on the federal role from the 1960s to the present. Large scale trends suggest new roles and relationships for elections officials.
The 2000 presidential elections brought unprecedented public scrutiny to the elections process. Close elections had been contested and recounted before, but none were analyzed by more Americans using more sources for their information. In the aftermath of that election, newspapers, television news programs, and Internet bloggers raised questions about, not only the elections process itself, but also the integrity of those administering the elections. A veritable cottage industry has since emerged which seeks to use film to mold public opinion regarding the fairness of elections and election administrators. Relying upon documentaries, television clips, K-12 educational films, and other sources, participants in the course examine, critique, and learn from the way elections in America are portrayed in film.
Elections and the administration of elections have garnered increasing attention since 2000. Of particular importance to legislators and the citizenry they represent is administrative accountability. One way to ensure this public accountability, while concomitantly improving organizational efficiency and effectiveness is a process known as "benchmarking". Hence, this course covers the basics of benchmarking as it relates to elections administration. The course begins with a general overview of the benchmarking process focusing on its general use in the field of public administration. Next, the course covers several appropriate, common benchmarking strategies and methodologies available to election administrators. Finally, the course explores how election administrators can apply the aforementioned types of benchmarking to various election administration issues.
The election system is receiving greater scrutiny today than ever before. Researchers from a variety of organizations are studying many aspects of election administration, sometimes in isolation from other parts of the system. Their findings, which show up in academic journals, government reports, and popular press, can influence policy makers and public opinion. This course is a summary of methods and findings for election administrators. The goal is to help practitioners discern what is useful critique, what is not, and identify gaps that need to be filled.
This course covers the development of contemporary American election administration from the historic moments of the 1960s to the present day. The course begins with the passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights Act (1965) and traces key legislation, court decisions, regulatory developments, and political events alongside the launching of new organizations and activities that have shaped the growing professionalism of election administration during this time. This course concludes with a discussion of current key developments in the states that present professional challenges. Professionalism of the field includes the launching of new organizations and activities, such as the Election Administration Reports, the Election Assistance Commission, the Election Center, and others.
In this course, students will examine women's suffrage in the U. S. and in a comparative perspective. Issues considered will be the place of women's suffrage with respect to other suffrage efforts in the U. S.; the women's suffrage movement and the factors that led to its success; the development of women's suffrage in other countries; and the effects of women's suffrage in the U. S.
This course will explore election administration and voter registration resources for establishing the cost of elections and registration. It will explore tools for budget requests including office operation, capital, and equipment budgets. Is it better to purchase or lease: This course will also cover resources requests from the budget official's perspective: What does it take to make the best case for more funding: What is the appropriate way to charge for elections and election services? Specific topics also include adding contractors vs. more staff and the addition of new technology. Participants are encouraged to bring a copy of their office/election budget for use in discussion and exercises.
Measuring election performance is quickly becoming an important issue at the top of the national agenda. Policymakers and voters expect a voting experience that is efficient and accurate and yet "one size" voting procedures cannot fit all circumstances given the side variations in systems, laws and practices across states, and local election jurisdictions. At the same time, it is critical that the election administrations be able to measure and analyze their performance and use their findings to demonstrate that elections are working well, to make changes then warranted, and to communicate information about elections to the election community, policy makers, voters, and others. Participants will practice using different performance measurement tools to measure and analyze election office data. Participants will also explore different avenues for communicating results to a variety of stakeholders, including within their offices, to funding authorities, and to external stakeholders including policy makers and the media. Participants are encouraged to bring examples from their own jurisdictions for discussion and analysis.
This course presents a structured process for managing successful organizational change in election administration and voter registration offices. As the public sector environment around elections continues to change rapidly, election administrators are faced with increasing demands for accountability and performance. Significant organizational change is both essential and inevitable in all public organizations, yet this sort of change is difficult in election offices because of a complex set of traditional structures, cultures, and routines than can inhibit organizational transformations. Participants will work with actual election administration management changes and design and evaluate change management plans. This approach builds capacity for smooth organizational change and successful implementation to maximize lasting benefits.
How does the public view your office? How do you know? This course teaches participants how to understand several common methods of interpreting election activity. As we would expect, reports for Election 2016 are full of polling data and the opinions of voters and candidates. These reports influence public opinion about election results and about election operations. Election professionals everywhere need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of these methods, especially when they may be asked by the press or county commissioners, for example, to comment on results. This course examines how surveys, focus groups, and polling are conducted. Participants will gain experience in reading questions and interpreting the results and in understanding the benefits and weaknesses of various types of approaches. Participants are encouraged to bring examples from their own jurisdictions for discussion and analysis.
All the votes are in and accounted for, and official election results have been released. Even though the election may be "over", the work of election officials and voter registrars is not! It is essential to conduct analysis of activities across the election system and to establish systematic feedback about successes, challenges, and solutions. In this course, election administrators and voter registrations will practice system wide assessment approach, which includes identifying weaknesses in administrative processes and procedures, evaluating instructions and assessing voter success in casting ballots to reduce voter error, place-based and mail operations, and assessing election day and early voting. Results can be used for continuous performance improvement and to educate different audiences and stakeholders including the general public, funding authorities, policy makers, advocacy groups, and the media.
Storytelling is a powerful communication tool, and particularly effective when working to align people or organizations around common goals and missions. Aligning goals and missions is important in the election environment, especially when seeking public funding, writing grants, and working with policy makers. This course uses the storytelling method to develop narratives to influence public funder and grant makers as well as those involved in public policy. Participants will create information displays and presentation outlines using election operations data and financial information to make the cases for funding, purchases, and policy change. All data and materials will be provided in this class.
With the release of the 2020 Census, election jurisdictions all across the country will be affected by changing boundaries as the redistricting process begins again. This course traces the concepts and principles used in redistricting in-general and analyzes how the current gerrymandering landscape has developed. Election officials will learn how these principles affect their work, and ways in which they can contribute to the redistricting process to the benefit of voters and their operations.
Jurisdictions around the United States have adopted alternatives to traditional electoral systems in order to address such issues as racial diversity, partisan gerrymandering, plurality winners, and negative campaigning. Course 33 will describe several systems including cumulative voting, limited voting, top two primaries, and ranked choice voting (RCV). Focusing on RCV, the most widely used of the alternatives, we will examine rationales for adoption, steps for implementation, and experiences of selected cases.
This course explores recent research in election administration including major surveys and projects from institutes, foundations, and centers around the country, and analyzes findings to identify tools to improve practice in the field.