The Profession of Democracy: Election Administration and State Associations

American flag with "I Voted" stickers on top

Elections administrators, the people who referee our democracy, are literally and figuratively under threat. Long hours, harassment, malicious open records requests, hyper partisanship – these and other factors are driving people out of elections administration. How do we attract and retain people willing to make a career of elections administration while meeting the training and collegial demands of a more professionalized workforce? The Certificate in Election Administration’s second annual spring conference explored the state of election administration professionalism, the role state associations play in the development of a vibrant, resilient field, and national and state-specific training programs that can help drive the profession forward.

This conference took place on Wednesday, May 10, 2023. Watch recordings of the panels below.

The State of Professionalism in Election Administration

What are Elections Administrators Saying

The Relationship Between State Associations and Elections Administration Professionalism

Creating and Retaining Quality Election Administrators with National and In-State Certification Programs


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Georgina Cannan

Portrait of Georgina Cannan

Georgina Cannan has spent her career working on the state and national level to advance voter participation and protect voting rights for campaigns, state parties, and the U.S. House of Representatives. From 2019 until the transition to the new Congress in January, Georgina worked at the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration as an elections counsel. Her portfolio included election security and technology, election subversion, disinformation, and general House cybersecurity oversight. She also ran the contested elections program for the House of Representatives.

Judd Choate

Head shot of Judd Choate

Judd Choate is the director of elections for the Colorado Department of State. Judd was the president of the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) in 2017 and served on the Executive Committee of the Government Coordinating Council (GCC) created by the Department of Homeland Security when elections were designated critical infrastructure. Judd was formerly a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska and author of a book and several peer-reviewed articles on political behavior. He has a J.D. from the University of Colorado Law School and a Ph.D. in political science from Purdue University.

Amy Cohen

Portrait of Amy Cohen

Amy Cohen is the executive director of the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED). In that role, she works closely with the state/territorial election officials from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five US territories, as well as with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and other partners. She has testified in front of the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary about NASED members’ experiences with threats and harassment, as well as their experiences with the US Department of Justice Task Force on Threats to Election Officials.  She also testified before the US Senate Intelligence Committee on election security issues in 2018.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University.

Matt Crane

Portrait of Matt Crane

Matt Crane is the Executive Director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, a not for profit 501 c (6) professional association that comprises 63 elected county clerk and recorders. As Executive Director, Matt oversees the day-to-day operations of the association, which include helping set the legislative agenda, managing contractors, press management and communications, creating and maintaining the annual budget, managing two annual conferences, and mentoring association members.  Matt previously served as an election official in Colorado for 19 years at both the state and county level. From 2013 through 2018, he served as the Clerk and Recorder for Arapahoe County, CO. 

Amy Farrington

Portrait of Amy Farrington

Amy Farrington is currently the Executive Director for the Florida Supervisors of Elections, the professional association for the 67 supervisors of elections in Florida.  After graduating from law school, she began her career in Florida government, including the Florida Department of State Division of Elections.  Since then, Amy has worked in the nonprofit, private and higher education industries as an executive in administration, organizational development and public policy.

Paul Gronke

Portrait of Paul Gronke

Paul Gronke is a professor of Political Science and Director of the Elections & Voting Information Center (EVIC) at Reed College in Portland, OR. Dr. Gronke studies American politics, specializing in convenience and early voting, election administration, public opinion, and elections. He served for eight years as editor of the Election Law Journal and is currently co-editor of PS: Political Science and Politics. In 2005, Dr. Gronke established EVIC ( EVIC searches for non-partisan solutions to identified problems in election administration that are backed by solid empirical evidence. Dr. Gronke works to improve access and ensure integrity in the American elections system.

Larry Jacobs

Headshot of Larry Jacobs

Lawrence R. Jacobs is McKnight Presidential Chair in Public Affairs, the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies, and director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance in the Hubert H. Humphrey School and the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. Jacobs has published 16 books and edited volumes and dozens of articles on elections, legislative and presidential politics, elections and public opinion, and a range of public policies.

Neal Kelley

Portrait of Neal Kelley

Neal Kelley is the retired Registrar of Voters for Orange County, California, the fifth largest voting jurisdiction in the United States, serving more than 1.9 million registered voters. He served as the Registrar of Voters from 2005 through 2022. In addition to serving on numerous federal and state committees and serving as president of election administration’s state and national associations, Kelley is a former appointee and founding member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Election Security Task Force, where he helped to oversee the protection of the nation’s election infrastructure. Although officially retired, he recently served in a supporting role for the 2022 elections in the State of Hawaii and teaches election management for the University of Minnesota.

Matt Masterson

Portrait of Matt Masterson

Matt Masterson is the Director of Information Integrity at Microsoft Corp. Matt is a former non-resident policy fellow with the Stanford Internet Observatory. He served as Senior Cybersecurity Advisor at the Department of Homeland Security, where he focused on election security issues. He previously served as a Commissioner at the Election Assistance Commission from December 2014 until March 2018, including serving as the Commission’s Chairman in 2017-2018. Prior to that, he held staff positions with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, where he oversaw voting-system certification efforts and helped develop an online voter registration system. Matt holds a law degree from the University of Dayton School of Law and BS and BA degrees from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Jennifer Morrell

Portrait of Jennifer Morrell

Jennifer Morrell is a partner at The Elections Group, where she creates professional resources for elections officials and consults on election administration and auditing.  Since co-founding The Elections Group in 2020, she has focused her work on providing direct support to elections jurisdictions and states. She has consulted and provided guidance on all aspects of elections administration, including mail/absentee ballot processing, ballot drop box implementation, and chain of custody considerations.  She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Tammy Patrick

Portrait of Tammy Patrick

Tammy Patrick is Chief Executive Officer for Programs at the Election Center, she has been working in the election administration space since 2003. Focusing on modern elections, Tammy works to foster a voter-centric elections system and support election officials across the country. In 2013 she was selected by President Obama to serve as a commissioner on the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, which led to a position at the Bipartisan Policy Center to further the work of the PCEA. Prior to that, she was the Federal Compliance Officer for Maricopa County Elections Department for eleven years. She received her CERA certification in 2007 from Auburn University and the Election Center and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2022. She has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Policy since 2016.

Sherri Poland

Portrait of Sherri Poland

Sherry Poland was appointed Director of the Hamilton County, Ohio, Board of Elections in June of 2014. Prior to being appointed Director, she served as the board’s Operations Administrator. Ms. Poland is responsible for administering all local, state, and federal elections that occur in the county, along with the day-to-day operations of the board. She currently serves as President of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, is a member of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission’s Local Leadership Council and is a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Elections.

Ashley Quarcoo

Portrait of Ashley Quarcoo

Ashley Quarcoo is the executive director of the Election Trust Initiative, a non-partisan funding collaborative seeking to strengthen the ecosystem supporting election administration.  She is also a non-resident fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where her research has focused on threats to democracy, social and political polarization, and comparative approaches towards conducting elections and addressing human rights.  Prior to joining ETI, Ashley was senior director of democracy programs and pillars of More Perfect, where she led policy, programs, and coalition engagement.  

Ryan Ronco

Portrait of Ryan Ronco

Ryan Ronco is Placer County’s clerk-recorder-registrar of voters. He was appointed to his current position by the Placer County Board of Supervisors in 2016, was elected to the post by Placer County’s voters in 2018, and was reelected for another four year term June of 2022.  The office has a budget of $11 million and employs a full-time staff of 56.  He has successfully administered over 100 federal, state, and local elections for the voters of Placer County during his tenure.  He is certified by the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials (CACEO) as a professional elections administrator and currently serves as the CACEO’s president.

Charles Stewart III

Portrait of Charles Stewart III

Charles Stewart III is the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science at MIT, where he has been on the faculty since 1985 and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He is the founding director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab (MEDSL), a program that encourages the application of scientific principles to the study and improvement of election administration.  He is also the co-director of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, which is an interdisciplinary project of social scientists, engineers, and management scientists that explores the role of technology in the conduct of elections. His work within the field of election administration focuses on using data to assess the quality of election practice.