Monday, August 15, 2005

Stalin's Advocate

David Maeda, Elections Specialist for Hennepin County was designated as a Certified Elections/Registration Administrator (CERA), the highest professional achievement, in ceremonies conducted by the Election Center at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Los Angeles, CA, August 12, 2005.

CERA designation is achieved only through a multi-year course of study conducted by The Election Center's Professional Education Program and completion of twelve core courses taught by the Master's in Public Administration faculty of Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama) ranging from ethics, to voter registration and elections law, planning, communications, and voter participation, among others. The intent of the program is professionalize the management of voter registration and elections administration in promoting and preserving public trust in the democratic process.

"This is the highest designation available to elections and voter registration officials," said R. Doug Lewis, director of the Center. "Of more than 21,000 elections and voter registration officials throughout America, this graduating class of 46 professionals takes us to 320 election officials who have achieved the CERA status. To be among the first 500 certified in America is an outstanding accomplishment."

"Hennepin County is indeed fortunate to have Maeda as one of the top designated professionals in America. Obtaining and maintaining CERA status means that he has committed to a career long process of continuing education to improve the electoral process in Minnesota and the nation," he stated.

"These truly are the people who make democracy possible," Lewis said. "Maeda and other CERA professionals serve as the nation's protectors of the democratic process. Because of them, Americans have a trust and public confidence in the election process. They have assurance that the system is fair, free, honest and accurate. In many parts of the world, their citizens have no faith in the form of democracy offered in their home countries. The importance of what Maeda is doing for Hennepin County is incredible but rarely noticed... unless something goes wrong."

Maeda, an elections official for eight years, said "This is one of the most challenging election education programs I have ever participated in. We covered the law, and ethical considerations in how to better serve the public. We also became more aware of how important it is to nurture and care for the democratic process. I loved how we got credit for just showing up, just like the voters do.

"It is my great honor to assure that the public's will is accurately reflected in our elections," Maeda said. "I see my role to dignify all potential voters and to remove as many barriers as possible to participation in the democratic process. Our office cannot be responsible for how many actually turn out for each election, but we can certainly be sure that they have the opportunity to vote and have their votes counted accurately."

The Professional Education Program is sponsored by The Election Center, a non-profit association of voter registrars and elections administrators throughout America. Its membership is comprised of township, city, county and state elections officials. The Center's primary purpose is education for local and state voter registrars and elections officials to promote and improve the democratic process.

Professional Education Program participants receive continuing education credit from Auburn University as well as professional training credits from The Election Center.

The Professional Education Program was recognized in 1996 as the top continuing education program in America by the National University Continuing Education Association.

"Normally most Americans don't even know the election officials exist in their community and that they work constantly to protect the democratic process for its citizens," Lewis said. "Due to Election 2000, we now know just how important and complicated elections can be. In my opinion, the elections officials deserve the highest recognition that a community can give. If they don't do their job well, then citizens have no faith in the democratic process itself. Without faith in the process, it is almost impossible to believe in government itself - and that is a very large responsibility."

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