Lisa Blake and Layna Valentine-Brown are now CERA
designated election administrators.
Charleston, W.Va. – Two members of the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s Office have completed extensive training and now carry the title of Certified Elections/Registration Administrator (CERA).
Layna Valentine-Brown is the Elections Division Director and Lisa Blake is a voter registration specialist with more than nine years of service.
This is the first time West Virginia has had two Elections Division members with this title at the same time, Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant said.
CERA designation is achieved only through a multi-year course of study conducted by The Election Center’s Professional Education Program and completion of 12 core courses taught by the Master's in Public Administration faculty of Auburn University. The courses range from ethics and voter registration to elections law, planning, communications, and voter participation, among others. The intent of the program is to professionalize the management of voter registration and elections administration in promoting and preserving public trust in the democratic process.
“These are the high standards that we expect when it comes to elections in West Virginia,” Secretary Tennant said. “I am very proud of the work that Layna and Lisa, and all of the members of the Elections Division, have done. The importance of their expertise has been shown even more recently, with our special elections and making sure elections run smoothly even in the face of historic hurricanes.”
“The structured learning available from the CERA classes enabled me, in regards to elections, to understand where we have been, where we are now and where we may go in the future,” Valentine-Brown said. “It provided me the ability to link the federal, state and county roles in election administration. In addition to the learning experience in the classroom, the ability to share ideas with other election administrators is invaluable. We shared best practices, what worked and what didn’t. I have never heard anyone say they would like to be an elections administrator when they grow up, but it has developed into a career within an industry that is constantly changing and I am proud to be a part of it.”
“This program immerses you in all aspects of elections, not just the actual vote counting,” Blake said. “It helps you to look at why things are done a certain way and the thinking behind it. Being able to look at the election process and seeing the big picture, but at the same time appreciating the details, is a skill I will use every day.”
“Layna, Lisa, and other CERA professionals serve as the nation’s protectors of the democratic process,” said R. Doug Lewis, Director of The Election Center. “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 Layna and Lisa are doing for West Virginia is incredible but rarely noticed.”
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.