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Photo: Michael Parmelee/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Michelle Obama will throw her support today behind expanding vote-by-mail options, advisers tell Axios, with her voting rights group embracing legislation before Congress amid coronavirus fears.

Why it matters: It's the first time the celebrity-backed organization has endorsed federal legislation — and it comes as Democrats await the Obamas' return to the political stage to help Joe Biden.

  • "There is nothing partisan about striving to live up to the promise of our country; making the democracy we all cherish more accessible; and protecting our neighbors, friends and loved ones as they participate in this cornerstone of American life,” the former first lady said in a statement provided to Axios.
  • The group will support the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020 by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden.
  • The Obamas were staying mostly on the sidelines of the 2020 election through the Democratic primary season, but they spoke out against the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision preventing the state's voting deadline from being extended.

Between the lines: "We all saw those lines" of Wisconsin voters putting their health at risk to vote, said adviser and family friend Valerie Jarrett, who is board chair of When We All Vote.

  • "It was just deeply, profoundly concerning," Jarrett said.
  • "Our goal is to just try to make sure we maximize the number of citizens who can participate in that most fundamental and important responsibility."
  • The group will encourage people to call or email members of Congress in support of expanded access to vote-by-mail.

What to watch: Michelle Obama has been testing creative ways to promote voting rights since in-person gatherings are cancelled.

  • She hosted an online voter registration "couch party" in March with DJ D-Nice. Jarrett said another is planned for April 20.
  • The nonpartisan group also will be focused on educating eligible voters about voter registration and vote-by-mail, communications director Crystal Carson told Axios.

The backdrop: She launched When We All Vote in 2018, with co-chairs Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monáe, Chris Paul, Faith Hill, and Tim McGraw.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify which bill When We All Vote is supporting. In the original story, the group told Axios it will support absentee voting protections under the Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020. The organization now says it will support the Klobuchar-Wyden bill, which incorporates and expands on the original legislation.

Go deeper:

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Tech's war for your wrist

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech's biggest companies are ramping up competition for the real estate between your hand and your elbow.

The big picture: The next big hardware platform after the smartphone will likely involve devices for your eyes, your ears and your wrists.

2 hours ago - World

Tokyo Olympics to allow up to 10,000 fans at each event

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto (L) and IOC President Thomas Bach on Monday. Photo: Rodrigo Reyes Marin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics said Monday that venues can be filled up to 50% capacity when the Games kick off on July 23, with a maximum of 10,000 Japanese spectators at each event, AP reports.

Why it matters: Medical experts advising the Japanese government had recommended against allowing fans, citing the low vaccination rates in Japan and the potential for new variants to drive up infections.

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The psychology behind COVID-19 vaccine lotteries

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NBA season tickets. Scholarships. A chance at $5 million. The list of lotteries and raffles states are launching to drive up COVID-19 vaccination rates is growing, and some local officials are already reporting "encouraging" results.

Driving the news: The reason why, some psychologists and public health experts say, is that the allure of lotteries for many people is simply that the prospect of winning a great prize seems better than passing up the chance, regardless of the odds.