Person

Amber McReynolds

Occupation:

Nonprofit CEO and political activist

Nationality:

American

Born:

March 7, 1980 (Age 41)

Amber McReynolds is the CEO of the left-of-center National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition and is the former Director of Elections for Denver, Colorado. The National Vote At Home Institute and the Coalition support efforts to implement universal mail-in voting in the United States, partnering with left-of-center organizations including the Democracy Fund, Common Cause, Nonprofit VOTE, and Rock the Vote. [1]

According to numerous secretaries of state and election officials, McReynolds played a key role in organizing state vote-by-mail efforts during the 2020 presidential election. [2]

Early Life and Education

Amber McReynolds was born on March 7, 1980 to Dana and Carol McReynolds in Kewanee, Illinois. [3] Dana McReynolds, a longtime judge in Henry County, Illinois was appointed to a circuit court judgeship in 2020. Amber McReynolds graduated from Kewanee’s Wethersfield High School in 1997. [4]

McReynolds graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2001 with a degree in political science and speech communications. She then attended the London School of Economics for a master’s degree in comparative politics, during which she worked for British Labour Party MP Harriet Harman, who later went onto become the Labour Party’s leader and Leader of the Official Opposition. [5]

Career

Following her graduation from the London School of Economics, McReynolds returned to the United States to work for a coordinating council that focused on improving the court process for family and child abuse victims.

In 2004, McReynolds began work for the left-of-center New Voters Project in Iowa during the 2004 presidential election. [6] The organization claims to be nonpartisan but prioritizes the registration of left-leaning young voters. It is a part of the left-of-center Public Interest Network (PIN), a collection of over 100 left-leaning advocacy groups, and is funded by the Tides Center, a left-of-center fiscal management group and pass-through fund. [7]

The New Voters Project held several of McReynolds’s trainings in the city of Denver, Colorado, which, according to an interview with VoyageDenver magazine, heavily contributed to her decision to work there in the future. In 2005, McReynolds was accepted for a position as an operational coordinator at the Denver Elections Division.  [8]

In 2007, McReynolds was promoted to deputy director and, in 2011, she was appointed to director of elections by then-Denver Clerk and Recorder Stephanie O’Malley. [9] Under her leadership, the Denver Elections Division made significant changes to how the city handles its elections, and in her first year as director, she was awarded the city’s “rising star” award by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D). [10] McReynolds led the creation of Ballot TRACE, an app that tracks voters’ ballots through the mail, and eSign, an electronic petition-gathering software. [11]

In 2013, due in large part to McReynolds’s support, the state of Colorado passed a major voting bill, which provided a ballot by mail to every state voter, allowed voting centers for those who choose not to use the mail-in ballot, and allowed people to register and vote immediately on election day. The controversial bill was criticized for decreasing election security, given the ease of ballot access. [12] The 2013 legislation made Colorado one of five states prior to 2020 to conduct all elections by mail, and it was among the first states to allow for same-day voter registration. [13]

National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition

At the time of her 2018 resignation from the Denver Elections Division, McReynolds was considered by several media outlets, including Colorado Politics and Denverite, to be a “political up-and-comer” in the state of Colorado. The center-left ColoradoPols reported that she was “well down the path of discussions to determine if she should challenge incumbent Secretary of State Wayne Williams [R].” [14]

According to the Denver Post, McReynolds was also considering running for clerk and recorder, the elected office that oversees the Denver Elections Division. McReynolds told the outlet that she planned to stay in Denver and was still mulling a run for office. In August 2018, however, McReynolds announced her plan to become executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute and the National Vote at Home Coalition, located in Washington, D.C. [15]

According to TIME, McReynolds and the National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition played a key role in organizing vote-by-mail efforts for the 2020 presidential election. In March 2020, McReynolds published the first-ever national mail-in voting proposal, which brought her and the Institute national exposure. [16]

As the election drew closer, the Institute gave various secretaries of state “from both parties technical advice on everything from which vendors to use to how to locate drop boxes” and “communications tool kits.” In private calls with left-of-center activists, McReynolds encouraged the use of absentee voting for shortening lines at polling places. [17] In this role, McReynolds became an active participant in longtime AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer’s election strategy calls, considered to be ”the galactic center for a constellation of operatives across the left.” [18]

References

  1. “About Us.” Vote At Home. Accessed March 15, 2020. https://www.voteathome.org/about/ ^
  2. Ball, M. (2021, February 04). The secret Bipartisan campaign that saved the 2020 Election. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/ ^
  3. Abrams, A. (2020, October 20). Amber McReynolds is helping the COUNTRY Vote-by-mail in 2020. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://time.com/5901694/amber-mcreynolds-vote-by-mail-2020-election/ ; Wethersfield grad makes ‘top 10’ list in Denver. (2012, March 14). Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.starcourier.com/article/20120314/NEWS/303149841 ^
  4. Hammer, L. (2020, August 26). Dana McReynolds appointed to fill RESIDENT circuit judgeship. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://qctimes.com/news/local/dana-mcreynolds-appointed-to-fill-resident-circuit-judgeship/article_b314dfb0-4a9d-52cc-9725-a45e27dce786.html ^
  5. Meet Amber McReynolds – VOYAGEDENVER – Denver. (2019, July 29). Retrieved February 11, 2021, from http://voyagedenver.com/interview/meet-amber-mcreynolds/ ^
  6. Meet Amber McReynolds – VOYAGEDENVER – Denver. (2019, July 29). Retrieved February 11, 2021, from http://voyagedenver.com/interview/meet-amber-mcreynolds/ ^
  7. Ludwig, H. (2018, October 05). MASSPIRG: The LEFT-WING LEVIATHAN. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://capitalresearch.org/article/masspirg-the-left-wind-leviathan/ ; “Tides Foundation List of Grantees 2010.” docshare.tips, March 2017. http://docshare.tips/tides-foundation-list-of-grantees-2010_58bc1cceb6d87fc50d8b4ad0.html. ^
  8. Meet Amber McReynolds – VOYAGEDENVER – Denver. (2019, July 29). Retrieved February 11, 2021, from http://voyagedenver.com/interview/meet-amber-mcreynolds/ ^
  9. Meet Amber McReynolds – VOYAGEDENVER – Denver. (2019, July 29). Retrieved February 11, 2021, from http://voyagedenver.com/interview/meet-amber-mcreynolds/ ^
  10. Wethersfield grad makes ‘top 10’ list in Denver. (2012, March 14). Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.starcourier.com/article/20120314/NEWS/303149841 ^
  11. Njegomir, D. (2018, December 18). Q&A with amber McReynolds: Denver’s ELECTIONS Maven GOES NATIONWIDE. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.coloradopolitics.com/news/q-a-with-amber-mcreynolds-denver-s-elections-maven-goes-nationwide/article_60037820-0942-11e9-a09b-3f9e0419dbf8.html ^
  12. Lee, K., & Bunch, J. (2013, May 02). Colorado Senate oks MAIL-BALLOT voting, as GOP Maintains Fraud concern. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.denverpost.com/2013/05/02/colorado-senate-oks-mail-ballot-voting-as-gop-maintains-fraud-concern/ ^
  13. Voting outside the Polling Place: Absentee, All-Mail and other voting at home options. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/absentee-and-early-voting.aspx ; Lee, K., & Bunch, J. (2013, May 02). Colorado Senate oks MAIL-BALLOT voting, as GOP Maintains Fraud concern. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.denverpost.com/2013/05/02/colorado-senate-oks-mail-ballot-voting-as-gop-maintains-fraud-concern/ ^
  14. Bunch, J. (2018, July 18). Rising political star Amber McReynolds leaving DENVER Elections post. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.coloradopolitics.com/hot-sheet/rising-political-star-amber-mcreynolds-leaving-denver-elections-post/article_7c71d125-c747-5d76-835a-d56112de7cf1.html ^
  15. Skilling, C. (2018, July 31). Denver director of elections Amber Mcreynolds to step down. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.denverpost.com/2018/07/27/denver-elections-director-stepping-down/ ^
  16. Abrams, A. (2020, October 20). Amber McReynolds is helping the COUNTRY Vote-by-mail in 2020. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://time.com/5901694/amber-mcreynolds-vote-by-mail-2020-election/ ^
  17. Ball, M. (2021, February 04). The secret Bipartisan campaign that saved the 2020 Election. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/ ^
  18. Ball, M. (2021, February 04). The secret Bipartisan campaign that saved the 2020 Election. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/ ^
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