Anna Leider, former registrar, dies at 62

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Anna Leider, former registrar, dies at 62
Anna Leider worked in the city for 22 years, during which she oversaw more than 40 elections.
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By Olivia Anderson | oanderson@alextimes.com

Anna Leider, the former voter registrar who managed 41 city elections, lost her battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma on Feb. 12. She was 62.

Appointed by the Alexandria Electoral Board, Leider oversaw local voter registration services, maintained voter registration records, certified candidates for local office and administrated state and national elections for six years. As general registrar and deputy of elections, Leider oversaw four presidential elections and three state or regional election recounts. She also served as a member of the Alexandria Electoral Board.

Leider worked in the City of Alexandria for 22 years. When she first began serving as an election official, the city had 67,400 registered voters and 24 polling places. By the time she retired, there were 98,200 registered voters and 30 polling places. Angela Maniglia Turner, who was appointed as the city’s general registrar after Leider retired in 2020, worked with Leider for many years and said she would be dearly missed.

“I’ve worked with her when she was on the electoral board, when she was the deputy registrar and then under her as the general registrar, and [with] each of those positions she absolutely took the roles and responsibilities and ran with them,” Turner said. “She did so much for this office and our office has grown so much. She took on so many hats. She was just absolutely wonderful.”

Anna Leider poses with Angela Maniglia Turner, who took over as general registrar after Leider retired in 2020.

Born on Dec. 18, 1959, Leider was a longtime Alexandria fixture. She attended Alexandria City Public Schools and graduated from T.C. Williams High School, now called Alexandria City High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Amherst College in 1981 and a master’s in business administration from New York University in 1986. She also studied early Renaissance art in a master’s program at the University of Chicago.

Leider owned a small educational publishing company in Alexandria for a time, and served on the city’s budget and fiscal affairs advisory committee and 250th anniversary commission.

But her passion for politics and elections bubbled under the surface throughout her life. She volunteered her time to work on President Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, working as his Alexandria presidential campaign manager. She also served as the chair for the Alexandria Democratic Committee from 1993 to 1997. Subsequently, Leider began working as a full-time election official and started to look at events and developments in the city through an election-focused lens.

Mayor Justin Wilson, whose friendship with Leider spans back two decades to when the two first worked together organizing a City Council caucus, said he spent a great deal of time discussing election policies with Leider. According to Wilson, Leider’s fascination with elections seeped into other areas, too.

“We spent a lot of time geeking out about election policies, procedures, how voting works, changes and reforms, where polling places should be,” Wilson said. “Every time we were building a new public building in the city, whether it be a school, a rec center, a fire station, Anna would always inquire, ‘Hmm, could that be a polling place?’ [Many] of our conversations were about whether we could use a public building as a polling place.”

Woven into Leider’s passion for elections was a solicitude that did not go unnoticed. One of Turner’s first interactions with Leider occurred in 2008 when Leider, who was secretary of the electoral board at the time, came in one day to assist with absentee voting. According to Turner, Leider spent the entire day on her feet, giving demonstrations to voters about voting equipment.

Leider welcomed everyone who came in and made sure they were familiar and comfortable with the process. Because it was such a long day, the office had ordered pizza, so Turner approached Leider to offer her a slice.

“I went to her first and said, ‘Pizza’s arrived. Would you like me to take over while you go and grab a slice of pizza?’ And she goes, ‘No, make sure everyone else gets a break first, and then I’ll take one,’” Turner said. “That was just one of those things that really told me what kind of a person she was, and how absolutely wonderful she was.”

This compassion and concern for others may contribute to why Leider was well-liked among both Democrats and Republicans.

Jack Powers, secretary of the Alexandria Electoral Board and member of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, called Leider an “intelligent, compassionate and committed” public servant.

“She knew election laws and regulations extensively,” Powers said. “She cared about the voters and fought to see that they had easy access to the polls to preserve our democracy.”

On the other side of the political aisle, Bruce Brown, a Republican member of the Alexandria Electoral Board, expressed a similar sentiment. In an overwhelmingly Democratic city, Brown said Leider deeply prioritized good governance, integrity and managing a well-trained office.

Anna Leider takes the oath as she is re-appointed to the Alexandria Registrar of Voters in 2015. Left to right: Ed Semonian, Electoral board members Susan Kellom, Jack Powers and Don Ledwig, Anna Leider

Brown went on to say that Leider’s contribution to Alexandria’s elections process is part of the reason why he considers it one of the best election offices in the entire state.

“We always knew that things were fair and square in elections with us, so she had real bipartisan love, in other words, which in this day and age is pretty hard to get,” Brown said. “She understood that for elections, people have [to have] confidence in elections. Even if they lose the elections, they have to know that that’s a fair election, that everything is done according to the rules. That’s what [Leider] wanted.”

Beyond the polls, Leider was an avid sports fan and dedicated much of her time to watching baseball. Many community members remembered her as a diehard Washington Nationals fan.

“Anna was brilliant, kind, and had a wonderful smile. Her enthusiasm for life was contagious,” former Mayor Allison Silberberg wrote on Facebook. “A few years ago, I ran into her at the start of a Nats game. I distinctly remember how she was all decked out in Nats gear, ready for the game. Later, she cherished that our team won the World Series.”

Back when she was a T.C. Williams student, Leider entered a national essay contest for 14- to 18-year-olds that asked students to describe the National Football League’s role in American history. Leider’s essay, “Why is Football so American?” earned her a $10,000 NFL college scholarship and tickets to Super Bowl X.

A woman of many passions, Leider’s vibrancy through it all is what Wilson said many community members will miss the most.

“It’s a big loss for the community. She was obviously way too young, and just someone who was all about service and giving back to this community in so many different ways,” Wilson said. “She was someone who found ways to apply her expertise to so many different things, so we’ll definitely miss that.”

Leider is survived by her mother, Kit, and cat, Sammie. While there are no immediate plans for a memorial service, an event will be held sometime in the spring.

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