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Mail-in ballots are counted in the city clerk’s office in Lansing, Mich., on election night. Photograph by Philip Montgomery for The New York Times

"The machinery of American democracy is working," Emily Bazelon writes in Sunday's issue of The New York Times Magazine, noting "America's pandemic election was a remarkable, unlikely feat."

The big picture: A committee composed of officials from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and its election partners earlier this week refuted President Trump's persistent claims of widespread voter fraud and irregularities, calling the election "the most secure in American history."

"And yet at the same time, the administration of elections — as well as the right to vote — is fragile and facing renewed threat."

  • Trump has still refused to concede to President-elect Joe Biden and is pursuing lawsuits in a number of states with baseless claims of voter fraud.
  • On Friday the president said that "time will tell" who won the 2020 election in his first public remarks since it became clear he’d lost the election to Joe Biden.

The state of play: "About 60 million people put their ballots in a mailbox or a drop box, doubling previous totals and contributing to what is likely to be the highest turnout rate since 1990, according to estimates by the U.S. Elections Project," Bazelon reports in the conclusion of "Democracy by Mail," a three-part series following the absentee-ballot process from printing to mailing to counting.

  • This year's turnout rate of the voting-eligible population eclipsed elections in most Americans' lifetimes.
  • Bazelon notes: "[F]or the most part, mail-in balloting — and balloting at the polls, too — went smoothly."

What's next: "This year’s election could well be a turning point for voting by mail in America," Bazelon writes. "If election officials can begin processing ballots early, ... they have time to get in touch with voters to address mistakes on ballots and also complete the count on or close to Election Day."

  • "[S]mall steps, technocratic rather than visionary, ... can help increase participation and trust. Congress could set national standards and fund states to implement them."

Go deeper: "The election security nightmare that wasn't," by Zach Dorfman.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 6: Last stand in Georgia

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer, Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 6: Georgia had not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 and Donald Trump's defeat in this Deep South stronghold, and his reaction to that loss, would help cost Republicans the U.S. Senate as well. Georgia was Trump's last stand.

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.

Scoop: Leaked HHS docs spotlight Biden's child migrant dilemma

A group of undocumented immigrants walk toward a Customs and Border Patrol station after being apprehended. Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fresh internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services show how quickly the number of child migrants crossing the border is overwhelming the administration's stretched resources.

Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
48 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Mounting emissions data paints bleak picture on Paris climate goals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Researchers keep finding new ways to reveal that nations are together showing very few signs of getting on track to meet the Paris Agreement's goals.

One big question: That's whether a spate of recent analyses to that effect, and scientific reports coming later this year, will move the needle on meaningful new policies (not just targets).