Outreach work in the College of Liberal Arts’ Department of Political Science has professionalized election administration, trained leaders in efficient election processes and aided developing countries in free and fair elections.
From your local polling place to the coast of Africa, Auburn University secures elections.
Auburn partners with the National Association of Election Officials, known as The Election Center, to offer a national certification program that trains election administrators in law, ethics, policy and history.
Before Auburn University’s Department of Political Science partnered with The Election Center, election officials did not have a professionalized education.
Through a certified training program, first-of-its-kind books about electoral labor, a journal specializing in elections issues and a conference bringing together elections professionals, the College of Liberal Arts led the professionalization of elections work.
“Our work to professionalize the field generally, regardless of specific practices, has made a significant difference in the confidence that public servants have that their work is being done correctly, that it’s being done fairly, that it’s being done ethically,” said Professor and Partnership Director Kathleen Hale. “Those are all parts of the feeling and the identity that you get when you build a profession, and you call yourself an election administration professional.”
Political science faculty help secure elections at home and abroad, educate election officials nationwide and professionalize the field of election administration through a partnership with The Election Center.
The CERA Program
The Certified Elections/Registration Administrator (CERA) program provides election officials with the knowledge and skills they need to efficiently conduct elections. Each class, from the history of elections to laws governing the electoral process, is taught by a College of Liberal Arts faculty member.
The CERA program’s success in building trust among elections officials and the public stretches across the country. As the program reaches its 30th anniversary, Professor Steve Brown said Auburn is a leading changemaker in elections operations.
“Auburn University has had an impact on every election in every jurisdiction in the United States, and I think that’s pretty powerful,” Brown said. “When you think about what outreach does, it helps an external audience. And when you’re thinking about the breadth of impact, I’m not sure there’s much else that the university does that’s broader and more impactful than the elections program and the training that we do.”
Auburn to Africa
More than 5,000 miles from Auburn, along the coast of Africa, Associate Professor Kelly Krawczyk and her students work as election observers to ensure the quality of elections in developing countries.
With their data, election management bodies improve their electoral processes and students receive a one-of-a-kind, globalized education.
“Not only will it provide a really cool hands-on opportunity for our students, but because of the nature of the cross-cultural teams, it will really allow them to engage with people from another culture in a way that they probably haven’t before, actually working on a real problem, contributing to collecting data that will help gauge free and fair elections,” Krawczyk said. “And hopefully that will lead to a really great experience for them, but also increased global and cultural competency.”