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Vote at Home

A nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization, the National Vote at Home Institute is dedicated to ensuring the security of our elections and putting voters' needs first. Vote at home is a growing trend across red, blue and purple states because it is a time-tested and proven way to bolster the security of elections, improve voter engagement, and reduce election-related costs.

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Amber McReynolds

Amber McReynolds' national profile has skyrocketed during the pandemic.

Prominent vote-by-mail advocate is Biden pick for Postal Service board

The reversal of voting by mail's standing and credibility, with Donald Trump gone and Washington newly in Democratic hands, appears complete.

A symbolic capstone on the transformation — from obscure second-tier cause of democracy reformers before the pandemic, to the heart of Trump's crusade of lies about the election, and now to an established aspect of good governance — was delivered Wednesday by President Biden. He said he wanted to put Amber McReynolds, the most prominent evangelist for absentee balloting as head of the National Vote at Home Institute, on the board that oversees the Postal Service.

Assuming she is confirmed by the Senate, which seems likely given initial positive reaction to the nomination, McReynolds would bring several types of diversity to the job. She would become the only woman on the board, and also its first member with expertise about how the beleaguered USPS could become a lasting force for good in the electoral system.

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Courtesy Amber McReynolds

Amber McReynolds hopes to find bipartisan support for vote-by-mail initiatives.

Reform in 2021: Vote at Home Institute sees state and federal opportunities

This is the sixth installment in our ongoing Q&A series on reform in 2021.

As Democrats take power in Washington, if only tenuously, many democracy reform groups see a potential path toward making the American political system work better. In this installment, Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute, answers our questions about 2020 accomplishments and plans for the year ahead. Her organization is a leading proponent of voting of mail and had been advocated such systems prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. McReynolds' responses have been edited for clarity and length.

First, let's briefly recap 2020. What was your biggest triumph last year?

First and foremost, we really became a go-to resource for election officials and policymakers alike. Basically doubling the number of states and jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C., that mailed a ballot to every elector in the general election was a massive deal. The broad expansion and adoption of vote-at-home options for all voters across the country definitely stands out as the biggest triumph, because more people had the opportunity to vote by mail this year. And then they used it. It was the most widely used method of voting. So we accomplished a very big goal in the middle of a pandemic.

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Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Kentucky is the only state with rules that make it virtually impossible to vote in person if an absentee ballot has been requested.

How to vote in person after seeking (or getting) a mail ballot in 49 states

More Americans will be casting their ballots by mail this fall than ever before. But in a year as chaotic and unusual as this, voters' confidence levels and best-laid plans can change quickly.

So what happens when people receive an absentee ballot but decide that heading to the polls is the more reliable or even convenient option than using the Postal Service or a drop box ? Or what if they apply to vote by mail but their envelope never shows up?

In every state except Kentucky, these are not insurmountable problems. But the degree of permissiveness varies considerably for voters who change their minds about their voting method of choice.

Source: The National Vote at Home Institute

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Jonathan Kitchen/Getty Images

So many voter toolkits, so little time. Here's where to go shopping.

Some advocacy groups try to influence lawmakers, others focus on making change through the courts. And then there are those working to engage the "regular" people by encouraging them to take action.

Now that voting has begun in much of the country, many democracy reform groups are stepping up their efforts to support voters by offering a trove of online tools designed to educate and engage the electorate in the final days of one of the most consequential presidential elections ever — and one facing a unique range of challenges because of the pandemic.

Below is a sampling. Find the one that's right for you. And if we missed something, let us know at newsroom@thefulcrum.us.

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