Illustration: Sara Grillo/Axios

Americans should vote in the 2020 general election by mail if physically going to the polls remains unsafe due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Ellen Weintraub, commissioner of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), said in a statement on Thursday.

What she's saying: "No one knows what the coronavirus situation will be when America votes this November. The U.S. government has the duty to prepare for the worst. And it can. But only if it acts now."

  • "Voting by mail offers the best path. Making vote-by-mail broadly available will not solve every election-related challenge this year, but it is a necessary and urgent beginning," Weintraub wrote.
  • "No one should have to risk their life — or the lives of their loved ones — to cast their vote."

Where it stands: Seven states have delayed primaries or caucuses in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Thursday that the state is rescheduling its 2020 primary to June 2.

The other side: The FEC "has no jurisdiction over the administration of elections, including whether states decide to offer mail-in ballots," Republican FEC chair Caroline Hunter told Axios.

  • "I hope my colleague will cease misleading the American people about the role of the FEC in American elections, particularly during this unprecedented crisis," Hunter said, referring to Weintraub.

Go deeper: Census Bureau halts field operations for 2 weeks

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Ellen Weintraub is the commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, not the chairperson, and Hunter is an FEC chair.

Go deeper

Trump's TikTok and WeChat actions ratchet up the pressure on China

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump escalated his campaign to claw apart the Chinese and American tech worlds Thursday evening, issuing executive orders that threaten to ban both TikTok and massive global messaging app WeChat.

The big picture: Trump's orders come against a backdrop of heightening tension with China, the steady unfolding of a hard "decoupling" between the world's two largest economies, and the Trump campaign's effort to wave a "tough on China" banner.

Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 19,128,901 — Total deaths: 715,555— Total recoveries — 11,591,028Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 4,884,406 — Total deaths: 160,111 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: Trump floats executive action even if stimulus deal is reached.
  4. Business: U.S. economy adds 1.8 million jobs in July — Household debt and credit delinquencies dropped in Q2.
  5. Sports: The pandemic's impact on how sports are played.
  6. 1 🎮 thing: Video gaming growth soars.

Trump floats executive action even if stimulus deal is reached

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The White House is finalizing a series of executive orders addressing key coronavirus stimulus priorities if negotiations with Congress fall apart, and it's leaving the door open for President Trump to use them even if a deal is reached that doesn't encompass all of his priorities, two administration officials tell Axios.

What we’re hearing: “I wouldn't be surprised that, if something gets left off the table, we’d be like ‘we can take this executive action too and be able to win on it anyway,’” one official said.