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Happy New Year! Storylines to Watch in 2013

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[Image courtesy of designyoutrust]

Hopefully each of you enjoyed the holidays - now, as we all spend a week or so struggling to remember to write "2013" on our checks, here are a few storylines that I think will be worth watching in the upcoming year:

1. The continued role (if any) of the federal government in election administration. 2013 should be a big year for determining the size and scope of Washington's influence on election policy. Given the likely continued focus on fiscal matters, 2013 could be the year when Congress decides whether to fish or cut bait on the Election Assistance Commission - and HAVA generally - as well as whether and how to continue the increased investment in the Federal Voting Assistance Program for military and overseas voters. In addition, 2013 will see Supreme Court oral arguments in the challenge to the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act and its restrictions on state changes to election laws.

2. A looming fight over Internet voting as a solution to the lines experienced in 2012. This isn't a new fight as much as the renewal of an old one, but as states (and Washington) cast about for solutions to the problems we saw in 2012, I would expect there to be high stakes (and high volume) debates about the potential benefits and pitfalls of allowing voters to receive and cast their ballots across the Internet. Legislators and their staffs should expect to be offered a crash course in online security - whether and how it shapes the debate will a fascinating development to watch.

3. The fate of voter ID as a policy and partisan issue. Voter ID, which dominated policy discussions throughout the last election cycle, experienced rough sledding as Election Day approached. Numerous court rulings blocked or delayed most new state laws - in some cases reportedly motivating voters who opposed ID to turn out in greater numbers - and the issue lost for the first time at the ballot in Minnesota last November. Now, as new state legislatures come to town, we will see whether 2013 will bring more of the same arguments or a turn to alternatives like electronic pollbooks and other means to assure the integrity of the voting rolls.

These are just the highlights, of course - there will be numerous storylines as the year unfolds - but rest assured that I'll be here every step of the way. Best wishes for a safe, happy and election-geeky New Year!

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