Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Mail-in Democratic primary ballots for Washington state await counting in King County, which has had the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Today's "Super Tuesday 2.0" primaries in six states are a real-time test of how the coronavirus could alter presidential voting — especially in Washington, the state with the largest number of U.S. deaths to date.

The state of play: Washington is a vote-by-mail state, which presents unique concerns and benefits in the face of a health crisis.

Why it matters: "It’s a model for other states about how to handle this," Washington Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski told Axios.

  • Coronavirus presents "a cautionary tale for other states — if they don’t have a robust mail-in ballot system — for what that may mean for people turning up to vote."
  • State Democratic Party chairs and executive directors "have had a robust conversation" with each other and the Democratic National Committee about how to deal with coronavirus and its potential effects on early voting contests.
  • Kim Wyman, Washington's secretary of state, told Axios: “Coronavirus really doesn’t affect us in the same way as states that have to open polling places.”
  • She said that the officials handling the ballots have been instructed to wear gloves while doing so, to change those gloves frequently and to wash their hands frequently throughout the process. 
  • Voters have been advised to use water — not their own saliva — to seal their ballot envelope to minimize any potential spreading of the coronavirus microbes.

Driving the news: Michigan and Washington — the two states with the largest number of delegates in today's contests represent two important tests of whether Bernie Sanders can regain momentum with Democrats as Joe Biden leads the race toward the nomination. Tulsi Gabbard also remains in the contest.

  • Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho and North Dakota are the other states voting today.
  • As the virus spreads, many states and U.S. territories have yet to hold Democratic primaries, with contests running through June. The general election is set for November.

A little over a year ago, Washington state's Democratic Party shifted from its decades-long practice of caucusing to appoint delegates. That change now looks prescient, though disease containment was not the guiding mission at the time.

  • Voters won't be forced to stand in line for hours to cast their ballot, and they won't be cramming into a high school gymnasium to participate in a caucus.
  • Washington state has already received five times as many ballots in the 2020 primary than people who caucused in 2016.
  • Podlodowski told Axios that 1.3 million people had turned in a primary ballot as of last Friday. The ultimate turnout is expected to exceed 1.7 million.
  • In 2016, she said, 230,000 people caucused in Washington state.
  • Washington voters must either place ballots in an official drop box or mail them in, postmarked by 8 pm local time.
  • Wyman said that while she’s happy to share best practices with other secretaries of state, “it’s not really an option” for states having primaries in the next three to four months to switch to a mail-in system because of the legal steps it requires. 

The big picture: During last week's Super Tuesday contests, the biggest states, California and Texas, got a glimpse of the coronavirus' potential impact on elections. But concerns about the virus have exploded domestically over the past week.

  • Various precinct openings in Austin were delayed after some officials skipped work over coronavirus fears.
  • Officials in Solano County, California, added an additional precaution after two health care workers tested positive for the coronavirus: a curbside location where voters could hand over their ballot through the window without ever getting out of their cars.
  • Oregon has declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus, but similar to Washington, it's a vote-by-mail state. Its primary is May 19.

The bottom line: Washington state is one of only five states with mail-in voting for all elections — and after today, three of them will have already had their contests — so if concerns about public health persist into general election season, most states will have to seriously scramble to try to adapt their systems.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

American officials and authorities in Haiti are working to try and free 17 hostages from a U.S.-based missionary group who were kidnapped in Port-au-Prince over the weekend, AP reported Monday.

The latest: Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement Sunday, "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children." The Ohio-based organization said they were on a trip to visit an orphanage when they were kidnapped Saturday.

China's economic growth slows

A worker assembles heavy truck engines in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, on Monday. Photo: Long We/Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

China's economy grew 4.9% in the third quarter of 2021 compared with a year earlier, the country's National Bureau of Statistics announced Monday.

Why it matters: The gross domestic product growth in the July-September period in the world’s second-largest economy marked the "weakest pace since the third quarter of 2020 and slowing from 7.9% in the second quarter," Reuters notes.

5 hours ago - World

Former spy Steele defends controversial Trump Russia dossier

Former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele arrives at the High Court in London in July 2020. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The author of the "Steele Dossier," containing unverified claims about former President Trump told ABC News he stands by his controversial report, according to excerpts from an upcoming documentary released Sunday.

Why it matters: The FBI drew on former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele's dossier as part of its investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged links to Russia's government, which led to former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.