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electionlineWeekly — January 3, 2013

Table of Contents

I. In Focus This Week

Director’s Note: Resolutions for 2013

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Happy New Year, everyone!

2012 was exciting, but I’m really looking forward to 2013 and the opportunity to work in the field of election policy outside of a presidential election year.

In that spirit, I have a series of resolutions that I will TRY to stick to throughout the year.

Resolved: Stop saying “turnout doesn’t matter”
I have been an advocate over the years of ignoring voter turnout, mostly because it seems to me that election officials really don’t have much impact on how many people turn out to vote. But one thing that 2012 really hammered home to me was the reality that misjudging turnout was a common factor in many local election controversies.

Consequently, this year I resolve to talk to folks across the country about how they estimate turnout in advance of Election Day and what data they use to do it. I still don’t think election officials can be held responsible for turnout – but they can and should be held responsible for being able to handle the voters who do show up on Election Day.

Resolved: Focus less on disagreements and more on what will work
Too much of the current debate on election policy centers on sharp disagreements over key issues in the field such as voter ID, Election Day registration and Internet voting. The temptation (and I’ll admit I’ve fallen prey more often than I’d like) is to focus on the debate instead of the issue.

At the risk of letting my Pollyanna flag fly, I really do believe that most of the problems facing the field are capable of resolution – and so I resolve to put my attention where my optimism is and look for solutions instead of just rehashing the arguments.

Resolved: Grow the field
The field of election administration is full of incredibly smart and talented people – but I believe we could use a LOT more. As the work of managing elections evolves, we are seeing the need for many new skills like design, information security and forecasting – some of which could be acquired by existing professionals but more likely will come from new entrants to the field.

Moreover, as the nation’s electorate becomes more diverse, it creates an opportunity for the field to follow suit by attracting and retaining individuals with a broader set of skills from a wider range of communities. That’s why I resolve to look for new opportunities to bring new (and not just young) people into the profession.

I have other resolutions – use a standing desk, lay off the cookies, etc. – but those are the big ones.

I don’t need a resolution, however, to remember to appreciate electionline’s faithful readers. We really enjoy bringing you the latest news and information in the field of elections – and are thankful for your continued support in our twelfth(!) year. Best wishes to all of you for a safe, successful and happy 2013.