Ball State CEATS Program Wins National Award

Two Ball State University programs dedicated to enduring election integrity have received national awards for best practices in election administration and training from the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

On Thursday, the EAC’s annual Clearinghouse Awards recognized Indiana’s Certificate in Election Administration, Technology, and Security (CEATS), a program partnership between Ball State and the Indiana Office of the Secretary of State, with its award for outstanding innovations in elections.

Additionally, the Indiana Voting System Technical Oversight (VSTOP) program at Ball State, another partnership initiative between the University, the Indiana Office of the Secretary of State, and the Indiana Election Commission ‘Indiana, was selected as an honorable mention.

“We are honored to accept these awards in recognition of the hard work and dedication of Hoosier election administrators and election officials across the state,” Indiana Secretary of State Holli Sullivan said. “Indiana’s successful record of electoral integrity is due to the people who work in all aspects of our electoral process and who are continually willing to adopt training, share best practices and innovate.”

The CEATS and VSTOP programs, co-directed by Drs. Jay Bagga and Bryan Byers are part of Ball State’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs, led by director Dr. Chad Kinsella.

“As a public university, Ball State recognizes our responsibility to support and serve our community, our region, and the entire state of Indiana,” said Dr. Maureen McCarthy, Dean of Ball State’s College of Sciences and Humanities. “Our mission is to provide exceptional educational experiences for our students, but we also recognize the importance of supporting the vitality and strength of our communities by protecting and encouraging civic engagement. I would like to congratulate Drs. Bagga, Byers and Kinsella, and their committed VSTOP teams, for this wonderful recognition.

Outstanding Innovations in Elections
The CEATS program offers an innovative college-level certificate program designed to provide in-depth, research-based training and education in the field of election administration technology and security.

“The CEATS program fills an immediate need in the state of Indiana for having an educational experience to professionalize election administrators,” said Dr. Byers, professor of criminal justice and criminology at Ball State. “This award recognizes the pioneering work of our program and the positive impact we have in our partnership with the Indiana Secretary of State, the Indiana Election Commission, and hard-working election officials in the 92 Indiana counties.”

A one-year, 170-hour program, the Certificate in Election Administration, Technology, and Security provides instruction and experiential training on:

  • Election law
  • Election Day Reports
  • Training and management of electoral staff
  • The basics of IT and security
  • Operation and troubleshooting of voting systems and electronic poll books

Participants also complete capstone projects and participate in mentorship with program faculty and state election officials. Capstone projects are designed to be useful in the participant’s county.

“We are grateful to be honored by the United States Election Assistance Commission for the important work carried out by our CEATS program, in partnership with the Indiana Secretary of State and the Indiana Election Commission” , said Dr. Bagga, professor of computer science at Ball State. “CEATS is a fundamental part of VSTOP’s mission to ensure the integrity and security of our state’s elections, and we appreciate the commitment of election administrators across the state in this critical endeavour.”

Ball State’s VSTOP program earned an honorable mention in the Outstanding Use of Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Grants for Election Modernization category.

VSTOP is a program funded by HAVA grants and overseen by the Indiana Secretary of State. The VSTOP team advises the Indiana Secretary of State and the Indiana Election Commission on certification of voting machines and electronic poll books in Indiana.

VSTOP helped create the first national legislation allowing the certification and testing of electronic ballot books before they were allowed for use in elections in Indiana.

The Clearinghouse Awards, also known as the “Clearie” Awards, are presented annually in the United States for best practices in election administration by the US Election Assistance Commission. Established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), the EAC is charged with serving as a clearinghouse for election administration information. To further this mission, the EAC launched the Clearies in 2016 to promote best practices in elections and celebrate the achievements of election officials.

The winners were selected by independent panels of election officials and EAC advisory board members, with EAC commissioners serving as judges for the vignette category.

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