Home News Local news Three V.I. Elections Officials Join Elite Class

Three V.I. Elections Officials Join Elite Class


Aug. 28, 2005 — Election administrators Natalie Thomas, Corinne Halyard-Plaskett and John Abramson Jr. have been designated Certified Election/Registration Administrators (CERA). The three V.I. elections officials are now among an elite class — of the 21,000 elections officials nationwide, only 320 have achieved this status.
"The citizens of the Virgin Islands need to know these people are working hard to excel at their profession," R. Doug Lewis, executive director of the Election Center, said Sunday.
A CERA designation is achieved through a multi-year course of study conducted by the Election Center's Professional Education Program in conjunction with Auburn University's Master's in Public Administration faculty, according to a release from the Election System of the Virgin Islands sent earlier this week.
In the case of the three V.I. officials the process was fast-tracked.
Abramson, who is supervisor of elections for the territory, said this week that he and the others took only two years to get the CERA credits.
The CERA program requires 12 core courses. Some of the courses include ethics, voter registration, election law, planning, communications, voter participation, the history of elections, management, technology, and leadership.
Abramson said he, Thomas and Plaskett went to the states periodically to take the required courses, working 12 hours a day, five days a week to get the work done.
"We went to class from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.," he said.
With that schedule, the three were able to complete the certification in two weeks.
The group graduated Aug. 12 at a ceremony held not only in Hollywood, Calif., but on the stage where the Golden Globe Awards are held every year.
The ceremony, held at the Beverly Hill Hilton, was part of the Election Center's National Conference.
"It was a big deal," Abramson said. He was, in fact, one of the speakers for the graduation ceremony.
"They really treated us well. We got a lot of attention from the media out there," Abramson said.
The intent of the program is to enhance the professionalism of the management of voter participation, registration, and general administration in promoting and preserving public trust in the democratic process.
"This is the highest designation nationwide available to election and voter registration officials," Lewis said. "Of the more than 21,000 election 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 320 certified in America is an outstanding accomplishment."
"The Virgin Islands finds itself in a very unique position, since we are the only territory in the nation to participate and complete the CERA program and to have the entire management staff of the election system to earn this prestigious distinction," Abramson, said.
Lewis said, "It takes an unusual commitment to have several people within an office pursue a demanding and challenging educational program. It also assures the Virgin Islands that the very best in management techniques, technologies and processes will be implemented throughout the territory."
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