Ever consider going to school to learn more about election administration? If so, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs now offers a one-of-a-kind program at a time when election administration and the training of election workers has been a subject of national conversation.
According to a press release, the new online certificate program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs recently approved by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents is the first of its kind to prepare the next generation of creative and committed leaders of election administration.
The Certificate in Election Administration program will provide relevant and rigorous professional training to those who run election systems throughout the United States as well college graduates who wish to learn more about the field. It is the only certificate program in election administration offered online, and will be offering enrollment beginning fall 2015.
“With this new program, the Humphrey School is poised to train leaders of election administration, at a time when there is an urgent national need to professionalize election systems,” says Humphrey School Dean Eric Schwartz. “This exciting new initiative will build on the School’s top-ranked standing and build on our commitment to inspiring and training leaders for public service.”
Across the United States, there are more than 8,000 local election jurisdictions and more than 50,000 people employed in election positions. Until now, numerous barriers including geography and work schedules have prevented professional development and training. At the same time, political and media scrutiny on elections has intensified and the demands on election administrators have increased because of new legislation, court rulings and technology.
“Effectiveness and trust are indispensable for the operation of elections,” said professor Larry Jacobs, director of the Humphrey School’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, who developed the program with Doug Chapin, one of the country’s most prominent proponents of professionalization in election administration. “The Humphrey School is excited to work with Doug to build a pioneering program to train professionals in election administration and to strengthen the foundation of America’s democracy.”
In its 2014 report, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration urged “the integration of election administration in university curriculums of public administration.” The Certificate in Election Administration program is a direct response to that call. A total of 12 credits are required for completion, and all courses will be offered in an online format, covering such topics as election law, election design, and voter participation. The program will provide students with a deeper understanding of election administration as well as the ability to identify—and resolve—key tensions that run throughout the field today.
PCEA member Tammy Patrick welcomed the Humphrey School’s program, saying it meets a “key recommendation to prepare tomorrow’s professionals to conduct elections in an environment that requires a comprehensive skill set in order to be successful,” adding “Our democracy depends on it.”