WSU Launches Educational Program for Election Workers as National Debate Heats Up | News, Sports, Jobs

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Officials from Utah County Clerks’ Offices gathered on Thursday, June 17, 2021 at Weber State University in Ogden for the inaugural training session offered as part of a new education program for election workers. Michael Dixon, associate professor at Utah State University, leads the class.

TIM VANDENACK, standard examiner

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Officials from Utah County Clerks’ Offices gathered on Thursday, June 17, 2021 at Weber State University in Ogden for the inaugural training session offered as part of a new education program for election workers. Utah Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson, front, traveled to Ogden to address officials.

TIM VANDENACK, standard examiner

OGDEN – As debate simmers across the country over elections, particularly over how to ensure a clean election, Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson thinks she understands the problem.

“If the outcome of the election is what the voter wanted it to be, then I think, yes, they trust it. If it wasn’t, they don’t trust him. This is the crux of the problem we face and the problem we need to solve, ”she said on Thursday during a layover in Ogden. “How can we ensure that voters have confidence in the election results even if they don’t get what they want in the end? “

TIM VANDENACK, standard examiner

Officials from Utah County Clerks’ Offices gathered on Thursday, June 17, 2021 at Weber State University in Ogden for the inaugural training session offered as part of a new education program for election workers. Utah Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson, front, traveled to Ogden to address officials.

Weber State University officials are trying to offer help in this direction. They developed an educational program for state election officials, and on Thursday 43 officials from 14 counties gathered for the inaugural classes of the VOTE voter certification program. “I think professional training is always good,” said Leah Murray, who, as academic director of the Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service at Weber State, helped develop the program.

Efforts to create the program began long before the hubbub over the results of last November’s US presidential vote, which were deemed accurate by election observers and inaccurate by some supporters of former President Donald Trump. Despite this, the program’s launch comes amid the focus on the elections, and Henderson, whose office oversees elections in the state, said election officials can help with efforts to build confidence in the electoral system.

“As election professionals in the state, you are the key elements in this effort to rebuild trust, through competence and ethics. So keep training your staff. Take advantage of resources like this. Make known. Let us get more election officials to come to these trainings, to get their certification. Stay on top of the latest technology strategies, ”she said.

She also called on election workers to get to know the elected officials in the regions they serve, to inform them about the voting and counting process. “Make sure they understand. Build a good relationship with them. If they know how the process works, hopefully that will prevent them from saying a stupid thing in public that undermines the electoral process and destroys public trust. She said.

TIM VANDENACK, standard examiner

Officials from Utah County Clerks’ Offices gathered on Thursday, June 17, 2021 at Weber State University in Ogden for the inaugural training session offered as part of a new education program for election workers.

As it is, election workers receive training in a variety of ways, from colleagues in their offices and at conferences held periodically by the Utah Association of Counties, according to Ryan Cowley, head of the Weber County Election Office. But formal opportunities are limited and may require travel out of state.

“In Utah, there is no formal or organized training program for election officials. Most are learned on the job and in other counties, ”said Cowley, who helped create the Weber State program.

Devin Wiser, executive director of the Walker Institute, called the new program “the first for the state of Utah.” And while it wasn’t born out of the controversy over the 2020 presidential vote, he said it could help promote confidence in the electoral system.

“Ultimately, preserving the confidence of citizens in the integrity of the American political process and elections is crucial to sustaining the American experience and is fundamental to all the other rights we enjoy,” he said in a press release from Weber State on the new offering. “Working to keep that trust is worth the investment. “

Participants will take courses in topics such as electoral law, data analysis, conflict resolution and security at dispersed times, obtaining certification in the program after completing 10 courses.

G’Ne Bartholomew, an assistant in the Iron County clerk’s office, was in class on Thursday. She noted the changing rules and guidelines that election officials must follow.

“They keep changing the things that you need to follow,” she said. “Never can have enough knowledge.”

TIM VANDENACK, standard examiner

Officials from Utah County Clerks’ Offices gathered on Thursday, June 17, 2021 at Weber State University in Ogden for the inaugural training session offered as part of a new education program for election workers.

Despite protests from some across the country over last November’s tainted election, the Utahns have largely expressed confidence in the vote here, Henderson said. Likewise, Cowley feels that most residents of the state believe that the results of the election in Utah last year were trustworthy. That said, it always helps to have new educational options like the Weber State program.

“Even though things are going well here in Utah, there is always room for us to learn new things and grow as a person and professionally,” said Cowley, who attended Thursday’s classes. . “I see this certification as a way to learn to use new tools that I can use so that when things don’t go perfectly, I have the skills to make it right. “

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