OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – More than 40 election officials from 14 counties across the state are attending a class at Weber State University this week as part of the VOTE Certification program.
According to program directors, this first-of-its-kind course provides a foundation for Utah’s election workers to run free and fair elections by increasing their knowledge about the process, its rules, and history.
“We’re excited to be here building on that confidence that we have as Utahans,” Devin Wiser tells ABC4. Wiser is the executive director of the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service at WSU. Under Wiser’s direction, the Walker Institute now offers the VOTE Certification progam for election officials.
“Basically, it’s a professional development program for these election officials where they can come and learn best practices, and get some added training, and get some added tools,” adds Wiser.
Wiser says adding to the reportorie of skills and knowledge of Utah eleciton officials has a goal: to make the election process run even smoother at the local level. He hopes this creates even more confidence in the election process.
The program brings in experts from across the state who are teaching 10 different courses. These courses cover different topics from election history, to election security and even Mike Dixon’s course on process management.
Dixon is an associate professor at Utah State University’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. He believes increasing the election officials’ knowledge of process management will improve the way they run elections. He says this is important because “ensuring that the process is done correctly gives us, as citizens, more trust and transparency in what’s going on.”
After completing all 10 courses, election officials will recieve their certificate. For some officials, the courses are already giving them ideas on how to improve.
“I think it will help us to make things a little more streamlined, a little more efficient, maybe a little less of a headache for us too if we can make things a little more efficient,” says Box Elder County Clerk Marla Young. Young tells ABC4 she, and other officials from the county, chose to sign up for the VOTE Certification program because they believe any progam to make the election process more transparent for voters is a program worth attending.
Election officials will take a few courses throughout the year to earn their certificate. Program directors say the program is a non-partisan effort and was created in coordination with the lieutenant governor’s office.
Wiser tells ABC4 the program was not created in response to any claims of voter fraud during the last election season. He says the Walker Institute plans on offering the program annually.