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Former Denver Election Chief Increased Voting, Improved Service with Tech, Vote-by-Mail, Same-Day Registration

Governing has named Former Denver city and county elections director Amber McReynolds one of its 2018 Public Officials of the Year for her efforts to improve voter participation and ballot security. How’d she do it?

Amber McReynolds
Amber McReynolds, working for voters, not parties.
  • McReynolds implemented Ballot TRACE, a program that lets voters track their mail-in ballots just like their Christmas packages. Using Ballot TRACE reduced the number of people calling McReynolds’s office on Election Day by 90%.
  • McReynolds introduced electronic petitions, making it easier to circulate ballot measures and validate signatures.
  • McReynolds adopted touchscreen voting tablets that cost a tenth of standard voting machines.
  • McReynolds successfully pushed statewide reforms to mail everyone a ballot and allow same-day registration.
  • McReynolds increased voter turnout and decreased by a third costs per voter.

McReynolds made voting easier, and widespread voter fraud remains as much of a myth in Colorado as it does everywhere else in America.

And hey, Steve Barnett! Did you notice that part about saving money? Even though your first priority as our incoming Secretary of State is business, not elections, you could adopt McReynolds’s reforms, save money, and do good for South Dakota voters to boot.

McReynolds now directs the National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition, another outfit from which Barnett and the rest of us could learn a thing or two about helping more people vote.


  1. Jake 2018-11-28 12:31

    If only, Cory, Barnett would accept your challenge to DO something in SD to make voting less taxing and easier along with registering… But I lay odds that he will pick up the mantra “it’s all about preventing fraud – while thinking privately (‘those pesky Natives don’t need to vote!”). Fraud exists alright, but it’s the GOP fraudulently claiming fraud doing it!

  2. mike from iowa 2018-11-28 17:18

    Speaking of voting, Dems picked up another California wingnut seat, making 40 seat change for midterms. FYI.

  3. Adam 2018-11-28 23:32

    I – just – LOVE THIS IDEA SO MUCH that I can hardly find the words. Who in the crazy heck could possibly disagree with the Amber McReynolds protocol for increasing security, ballot and voting access and for less cost to taxpayers? I mean, seriously.

    I am just simply ALL FOR this plan! We need all of this yesterday!

    I dare someone, anyone, to argue against it. I double dare you – as the only argument(s) I imagine might exist seem to be an outward clear expression of preference to prevent poor people from voting and/or racism – which is usually too self-damning for a person to publicly exhibit.

    Seems like the McReynolds Plan should be an easy sell!

  4. TAG 2018-11-29 11:41

    SHOULD be an easy sell, but, alas, it won’t be. Why would good Christian South Dakotans follow a working model from those pot-smoking hippies in Colorado?

    They will come up with some lame excuse, like “mailing ballots to everyone is a waste” or, “how will elderly voters ever figure out how to vote on a touchscreen?” or “this will cost to much to train the volunteers”.

    I have come to realize that South Dakota is destined to be the last state to try anything new that has worked in other states. Even things that promote efficiency and cost-savings, things that conservatives SHOULD be in favor of.

    We will just have to see these successful strategies flourish in other states, and wait patiently for our state to be the 49th to adopt it. Right before Idaho.

  5. Debbo 2018-11-29 20:44

    TAG, Idaho might beat SD. They used citizen initiative to force their government to bring in Medicaid. They could do the same with the Great McReynolds Plan.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-11-29 21:58

    Indeed, Adam and TAG, McReynolds’s policies should be an easy sell. Who would oppose making it easier for people to vote and to track your mail-in ballot so you know it gets to the courthouse on time? Who could oppose making petitions easier to circulate and validate? Who could oppose decreasing costs and increasing voter turnout?

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