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Benjamin Hovland, chair of the bipartisan Election Assistance Commission, said at an Axios virtual event on Tuesday that "helping to spread out voting over all of the options" — whether it's mail-in ballots, early voting or in-person Election Day voting — is crucial to limiting congestion and making it as safe as possible for voters and poll workers.

The big picture: Hovland said that in this unprecedented election year, which is likely to see a record number of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic, it is important that Americans pick the option that's best and safest for them.

  • He stressed that mail-in voting is "very safe," but cautioned that "there are more pieces of the process involved" — including meeting certain deadlines and following ballot instructions carefully.
  • If voters haven't already requested a mail-in ballot with two weeks to go until the election, Hovland said "that may not be the best way — or you'll want to do that immediately."
  • Hovland also recommended submitting mail-in ballots as soon as possible, even if voters' particular state allows them to postmark their ballot by Election Day.

What he's saying: "About 25% of Americans vote by mail in a normal year, or in 2016. So we're going to see an increase probably closer to half, but that's all it really is — an increase in a trusted voting method that we've been using for years," Hovland told Axios' Margaret Talev.

  • "But then also we're seeing a surge in early in-person voting. Between those, we're already at around 30 million Americans that have already voted in the 2020 election, which is pretty remarkable."
  • "There were about 140 million people that voted for president in 2016. You're seeing voters very enthusiastic. We're likely to see records in a number of places. But you also see voters spreading out through those options that I talked about earlier. ... The biggest thing is really to find that way you're comfortable voting."

Go deeper: Read Axios' deep dive on race and voting in America

Go deeper

Updated Nov 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Georgia certifies election results

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Georgia election officials and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) certified the state's election results on Friday, AP reports.

Why it matters: President-elect Biden now officially wins the state by a little more than 12,600 votes, though the Trump campaign has until Tuesday to request a recount since the margin is within 0.5%.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
43 mins ago - Economy & Business

New deals in the COVID economy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 is the macro horror of our lifetimes, and has destroyed or severely damaged countless businesses. But, like with most horribles, it also has created some opportunities.

Driving the news: Merck this morning announced an agreement to buy OncoImmune, a Maryland-based biotech that showed promising late-stage clinical results for a therapy that treats severe and critical coronavirus cases.

1 hour ago - Technology

Biden's openings for tech progress

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images 

Item No. 1 on President-elect Joe Biden's day-one tech agenda, controlling the flood of misinformation online, offers no fast fixes — but other tech issues facing the new administration hold out opportunities for quick action and concrete progress.

What to watch: Closing the digital divide will be a high priority, as the pandemic has exposed how many Americans still lack reliable in-home internet connections and the devices needed to work and learn remotely.