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 Masters in Public Administration faculty of Auburn University ranging from ethics, to voter registration and 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.
“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 57 professionals takes us to 734 election officials who have achieved the CERA status. This is an outstanding accomplishment.
“St. Mary Parish is indeed fortunate to have Ronsonet as one of the top designated professionals in America. Obtaining and maintaining CERA status means that she has committed to a career long process of continuing education to improve the electoral process in Louisiana and the nation,” he stated.
“These truly are the people who make democracy possible,” Lewis said. “Joni Ronsonet 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 Ms. Ronsonet is doing for St. Mary Parish is incredible but rarely noticed ... unless something goes wrong.”
Ronsonet, an elections official for 27 years, said “It is my great honor to assure that the public’s will is accurately reflected in our elections. 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.”
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.
Ronsonet resides in Charenton, as she has for most of her life.
“St. Mary Parish is my home, my safe haven where I can relax and enjoy the simple things in life,” she said.