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Local Govt & Politics
Counties meet deadline for vote count with legal challenge pending
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Counties meet deadline for vote count with legal challenge pending

Counties meet deadline for vote count with legal challenge pending
Photo Credit: Alyssa Pointer
Carolyn Bourdeaux, Democratic Nominee for Georgia's 7th Congressional District, holds onto a Gwinnett County absentee ballot as she speaks during a press conference outside of the Gwinnett County Board of Voter Registration and Elections in Lawrenceville, Monday, November 12, 2018. Bourdeaux's campaign filed an emergency motion Sunday night seeking to force Gwinnett County to count previously rejected absentee ballots for the 2018 Midterm elections. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Counties meet deadline for vote count with legal challenge pending

Every Georgia county but Gwinnett is expected to have met the Tuesday deadline to certify election results to the Secretary of State, but a court ruling expected Wednesday could put additional ballots into play.

Although Republican Brian Kemp has declared victory in the governor’s race, Democrat Stacey Abrams’ campaign said she will continue to fight for more votes to be counted in hopes of forcing a runoff. 

Two separate court ruling, one late Monday and another Tuesday, helped her cause by putting disqualified absentee ballots in Gwinnett back into play and requiring election officials statewide to review thousands of provisional ballots

That could also affect the count in the 7th District, where Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux has also filed litigation as she tries to close a roughly 900-vote gap with Republican incumbent Rob Woodall.

On Wednesday, a third federal judge is expected to decide whether the court order for Gwinnett to count absentee ballots missing valid birth dates should be applied statewide. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones will also rule on whether provisional ballots cast by voters who were registered in a different county should be counted.

Updates from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff were posted throughout the day on Tuesday. Click here for the latest vote totals

Gwinnett counts provisional ballots

10:30 p.m.: More than eight hours after Gwinnett’s elections board originally convened, the county accepted more than 2,000 provisional ballots.

Those included provisional ballots that pulled Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux within about 530 votes of Republican Rob Woodall in the 7th Congressional District.

- Tyler Estep

Gwinnett vote counting continues

8:42 p.m.: Elections workers in Gwinnett County are still tabulating what were viewed as uncontroversial provisional ballots that should be accepted. Meanwhile, the county’s elections board is reviewing staff recommendations on batches of provisional ballots deemed more debatable. The board is then deciding whether to accept or reject them.

- Tyler Estep

Woodall optimistic about a win despite court challenges

8:25 p.m.: U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall was cautiously optimistic about his chances of retaining his 7th District U.S. House seat and offered no apologies about his low-key campaign style on Tuesday evening as the Gwinnett elections board counted the race’s remaining ballots. What the Lawrenceville Republican said concerned him was the continued involvement of the courts in the vote-counting process after his Democratic opponent Carolyn Bourdeaux and several voting rights groups filed suits over previously-discarded provisional and absentee ballots.

“Having a close election isn’t a bad thing. Having judges decide the election, that is kind of a bad thing,” said Woodall during an interview on Capitol Hill.

Woodall leads Bourdeaux by roughly 900 votes, but several prominent Georgia Republicans have privately grown sour about the four-term incumbent’s reelection chances in recent days. Still, Woodall said he had no regrets about the nonconfrontational way he ran his campaign and insisted he would not change his style in 2020 should he win reelection this year. 

“This job is only worth doing if you can do it in a way that makes people proud,” he said. “And while Monday morning quarterbacking is a full-time job in Washington, D.C., there’s not going to be anybody who’s going to say that I embarrassed them or betrayed their vote because of the way we ran our campaign.” 

- Tamar Hallerman

Interim Secretary of State says certification will meet deadline

8:18 p.m.: Georgia Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden said Tuesday she'll certify the election by the state's deadline Nov. 20, once all 159 counties finalize their results.

Crittenden said once counties submit their vote counts, she doesn't expect to add any more ballots to the totals.

"The actual counting and determination is done by the counties, so my certification consists of computing and tabulating and canvassing the votes that have been cast," she said.

- Mark Niesse

Related: Georgia’s new secretary of state seeks accurate finish to vote count

DeKalb certifies election results

7 p.m.: In less than 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon, the DeKalb County Elections Board certified its midterm election results, touted their hard work and listened to questions and complaints from residents about the election process.

But a “technical glitch” is preventing the certified numbers from being posted to the county’s elections website, DeKalb spokesman Andrew Cauthen said Tuesday evening.

The board met to certify the results at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, but no updates had been posted as of 7 p.m.

DeKalb officials rejected 1,375 of the 3,147 provisional ballots cast, a spokesman said by email. Most were thrown out because voters were registered in a different county or weren’t registered at all.

- Raisa Habersham

Related: DeKalb voters complain of election issues as county certifies votes

Court ruling on Georgia absentee ballots due Wednesday

5:23 p.m.: U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said he hopes to decide by noon Wednesday if Georgia counties statewide will be required to count absentee ballots even if voters failed to include their date of birth or provisional ballots cast out of county.

Jones declined to delay today’s deadline for counties to verify election results. Gwinnett County is the only county not expected to finalize vote tallies today.

Jones questioned voters from the Republican Party of Georgia and Secretary of State’s office whether voters would be harmed by uneven implementation of guidance from the Secretary of State’s office regarding absentee ballots.

Only Gwinnett is under court order to count ballots with missing birth dates. The judge also questioned whether it was practical to require provisional votes cast outside the county where a person resides  to still be counted.

Stacey Abrams’ campaign and the Georgia Democratic Party argued they should. The Republican Party, Secretary of State and an attorney representing Gwinnett County said there are not processes that exist to prevent voter fraud if that rule is changed.

The lawsuit, filed Sunday, asked the court to require absentee ballots rejected for “arbitrary” reasons, such as a mistake in a birth date or missing information, to be counted. As many as 2,000 ballots were dismissed because of such problems.

- Tia Mitchell

Related: New ruling on absentee, provisional ballots expected Wednesday

Gwinnett counts provisional ballots

10:30 p.m.: More than eight hours after the Gwinnett elections board originally convened, more than 2,000 provisional votes were counted. 

Those included enough to bring Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux within 533 votes of Republican Rob Woodall in the 7th Congressional District race.

Gwinnett to count ballots Tuesday night

5:08 p.m.: Gwinnett County still plans to count provisional ballots Tuesday evening, but the elections board is in recess until the ballots are “ready to be addressed,” chair Stephen Day said.

The new scheduled date for certifying the county’s election results – 5 p.m. Thursday – will allow for the re-evaluation of absentee ballots that were rejected due to birthdate issues, per a new federal order. Day estimated there were more than 300 such ballots that have been identified, though officials are also likely to review other rejections that were filed under the vague “insufficient oath information” classification.

- Tyler Estep

Gwinnett delays certification

3:25 p.m.: Gwinnett County will not certify its elections results Tuesday.

Elections board chairman Stephen Day said it would take about two days to re-evaluate absentee ballots that were rejected due to missing birth year information, in accordance with a new federal order. 

A new special meeting for certification was scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday. The county was still likely to count provisional ballots Tuesday.

Related: Gwinnett will not certify election results today

A state senator detained

2:50 p.m.: State Sen. Nikema Williams was among about a dozen demonstrators who were detained during a protest in the state Capitol. 

The first-term Atlanta Democrat said she was standing with her constituents when officers put plastic restraints on her wrists.

“I was not yelling. I was not chanting,” she said. “I stood peacefully next to my constituents because they wanted their voices to be heard, and now I’m being arrested.”


 

The protest in the rotunda under the Gold Dome was organized by a local Black Lives Matter group to pressure state officials to ensure all absentee and provisional ballots were tallied. Occasionally, the group of roughly 100 people broke into chants of “count every vote.” 

Authorities said the demonstration was broken up after several warnings because of rules that prohibit chanting or yelling while lawmakers are in session. There was no immediate detail on how many people were arrested. 

Georgia law requires that legislators “shall be free from arrest during sessions of the General Assembly” except for treason, felony or breach of the peace. 

Related: Georgia state senator, protesters detained at Capitol while demanding that ‘every vote count’

- Maya T. Prabhu

Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
State Sen. Nikema Williams was among the demonstrators detained in the Georgia Capitol rotunda. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
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LIVE UPDATES: Chants of ‘count every vote’ under Gold Dome as key election deadline nears

Photo Credit: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
State Sen. Nikema Williams was among the demonstrators detained in the Georgia Capitol rotunda. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Gwinnett’s closed-door meeting 

2:40 p.m.: The Gwinnett County elections board was meeting behind closed doors Tuesday afternoon as provisional ballots were being counted and dozens of advocates from both sides of the voter access issue awaited their return.

Gwinnett began scanning provisional ballots around 1 p.m. and the elections board started its meeting -- during which it is scheduled to certify the county’s election results -- shortly after 2 p.m. Less than five minutes later, they went into executive session to discuss pending litigation.

They left close to 100 people inside their roughly 40-seat meeting room. Those gathered included a group decrying Democratic governor candidate Stacey Abrams’ decision not to concede, waving signs with the hashtag “Stop the Steal.” 

The other half of the room included voting rights advocates and representatives from the Democratic Party.

- Tyler Estep

A clash over vote tallies

2:30 p.m.: The Abrams campaign held a teleconference focusing on the fundamental disagreement in the post-election saga: How many votes are still outstanding.

Kemp’s campaign insists there aren’t enough un-tallied votes left to swing the vote to a runoff even if Abrams wins them all. Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said the Democrat’s tally shows roughly 30,000 ballots left.

Asked for a breakdown, Groh-Wargo said that includes roughly 2,700 rejected absentee ballots that could be reviewed, 2,600 absentee ballots and some 26,000 provisional ballots. She also said there could be some more early-votes and mail-in ballots that haven’t been processed yet. 

“Every hour that goes by, additional votes are processed. Some we know about, some we don’t know about,” said Groh-Wargo. “Our position is count the provisionals, count the absentees -- and don’t rush the process.”

- Greg Bluestein

The GOP intervenes

2 p.m.: The Georgia Republican Party filed litigation trying to intervene in ongoing court challenges from Democrats who are asking the courts to force local elections officials to accept more provisional and absentee ballots.

The Georgia GOP’s motion to intervene accuses Democrats of seeking to “subvert the express language of Georgia law by requiring invalid provisional and mail-in absentee ballots to be counted.” 

It also warns that siding with Democrats would "ultimately circumvent the jurisdictional and procedural requirements in Georgia law for election contests.”

- Greg Bluestein

Protests under the Gold Dome

1:40 p.m.: A group of about 100 people gathered at the Capitol Rotunda shortly before the House was to convene in a special session. 

The group chanted for every vote to be counted in the gubernatorial election.

There was a heavy police presence, and officers led a handful of protesters away in plastic restraints. It was not immediately known if anyone was arrested.

- Maya T. Prabhu


 

‘A good first step’

1:35 p.m.: The congressional campaign of Carolyn Bourdeaux called a federal court ruling requiring Gwinnett to count several hundred previously-rejected absentee ballots a "good first step" as county officials look to certify election results. But the Democrat, who is currently trailing U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall by roughly 900 votes in the 7th U.S. House District, also raised questions about other ballots that Gwinnett previously tossed for "insufficient oath" information.”

The county previously rejected hundreds of ballots for trivial reasons, including, but not limited to, year of birth," Bourdeaux spokesman Jake Best said Tuesday afternoon. "We will continue to fight to have every eligible vote counted and every voter’s voice heard.”

Bourdeaux had filed a motion in federal court late Sunday seeking to delay Gwinnett County from certifying its election results in order to count an estimated 3,200 provisional and absentee ballots that had previously been rejected.

Tyler Estep
A group believed to be organized by Debbie Dooley holds up signs as Gwinnett elections staff counts provisional ballots prior to election board meeting.
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gwinnett elections

Photo Credit: Tyler Estep
A group believed to be organized by Debbie Dooley holds up signs as Gwinnett elections staff counts provisional ballots prior to election board meeting.

Woodall said Monday that Bourdeaux should let local elections officials “do their job.”’

“It is disappointing that those, who in hopes of changing the election result, have gone to federal court to try to overrule our local, bipartisan officials,” the four-term lawmaker said. 

--Tamar Hallerman

Fulton’s vote is certified

1:30 p.m.: Georgia’s largest county certified its election results on Tuesday.  

Fulton County said 424,998 residents voted in the mid-term, the largest midterm participation this century. That equaled a turnout of 60.4 percent of the voting-age population.

Fulton received 3,549 provisional ballots, 1,555 of which were rejected, Rick Barron, the county’s director of elections and registration said. A total of 972 of the rejected votes were tossed because they were from “out of county” voters while 581 people were not registered. Two people who attempted to vote could not prove citizenship.  

“We can’t count ballots that are voted out of county,” Barron said.

Related: Fulton midterm election turnout close to presidential levels

-- Leon Stafford 

 ‘Ensure fairness’

1:15 p.m.: Religious leaders and Georgia Democrats chanted “count the votes” during a press conference inside the Georgia Capitol saying no valid ballot should be omitted as election officials add up the totals in races for governor and Congress.

Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, presiding prelate of the AME Church in Georgia, said many people were denied their voting rights because their registrations were canceled, their absentee ballots were rejected or they had to stand in long lines.

“A lot of them were denied the opportunity to vote,” Jackson said. “We cannot be confident that it was coincidence or accidental. ... We demand that every vote must count.”

Georgia Democrats echoed the call for a complete counting of votes before certifying the election.

Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain, said the numerous anecdotal stories of issues at the polls on Election Day show why counties need more time to tally. 

“After spending years shutting down precincts and passing laws to make it harder to vote, we have deep concerns,” he said. “The only thing to ensure fairness is to ensure every single vote is counted.” 

State Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, complained of former Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s track record of purging voters from the rolls and a lack of guidance for county election boards when counting absentee ballots. Kemp resigned from his public office last week.

“Brian Kemp has repeatedly put his heavy thumb on the scale of democracy,” she said. “Now Brian Kemp wants us to just trust him?”

-- Maya T. Prabhu and Mark Niesse

Racing to certify

12:30 p.m.: All but about 40 of Georgia's 159 counties have certified their vote, and most of them have fully reported the remaining provisional ballots.

But most of the more densely populated metro Atlanta counties that tilt toward Abrams plan to convene on Tuesday. 

That includes DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, which have yet to report provisional ballots.

You can see for yourself which counties have certified by clicking here.

-- Greg Bluestein

Gwinnett’s question

11:46 a.m.: Gwinnett County plans to begin counting provisional ballots at 1 p.m, a spokesman said.

Officials have previously said the county received between 2,400 and 2,500 such ballots, including around 1,500 believed to be cast in the tightly contested race in the 7th Congressional District. The county has not revealed how many of those ballots might ultimately be accepted.

Staff was still conducting final evaluations of some provisional ballots before lunch, officials said. The Gwinnett elections board is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. to certify the county’s election results, a process that could take multiple hours.

Gwinnett — a longtime Republican stronghold where Democrats are starting to make waves — has been in the spotlight throughout this election season.

Related: Gwinnett getting ready to count provisional ballots

-- Tyler Estep

Washington intervenes

11:35 a.m.: Our Cox colleague Jamie Dupree reports that the legal wrangling in Georgia has made it all the way to Capitol Hill, where Senate Democrats are rallying around Stacey Abrams and her efforts to tally all absentee and provisional ballots.

Dupree's latest includes comments made by Democrats attending Al Sharpton’s National Action Network event in Washington: 

“What we’ve seen in Florida, and especially in Georgia, has been a national disgrace,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), joining Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in accusing Republicans of doing all they could to suppress the votes of Democrats.

-- Tamar Hallerman

The latest tally

11:34 a.m.: The latest vote totals in Georgia’s governor’s race. For more updates, visit our vote count page.

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Live updates: Georgia counties face key deadline amid new legal battle

A DeKalb recount

11:30 a.m.: The DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections is in the process of recounting already accepted absentee ballots. 

The recount, which was supposed to be completed around 12:30 p.m., is to help ensure that the numbers the county has logged are accurate. About 19,000 absentee ballots are being recounted by machine. The county said it is too early to tell if any vote totals will change as a result. 

A spokesman for the county said the recount could take even longer that expected.

“Looking at the number of ballots left, I’m not sure,” county spokesman Andrew Cauthen said.

The DeKalb Elections Board is scheduled to meet at 4:30 p.m. to certify the county’s election results. 

As of Monday, at least 94 of Georgia’s 159 counties had already certified their ballots.

-- Raisa Habersham

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Live updates: Georgia counties face key deadline amid new legal battle

10:50 a.m.: There are still big questions about how many provisional ballots will be counted before Georgia’s election was certified.

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg on Monday ordered election officials to review as many as 27,000 provisional ballots that were cast because voters’ registration or identification couldn’t be verified at the polls. Totenberg’s ruling is separate from a decision Tuesday from another federal judge that additional absentee ballots should be counted.

Here’s what you need to know about Totenberg’s ruling:

  • It remains unclear whether additional provisional ballots will be counted. Totenberg ordered election officials to provide more information about provisional ballots that were cast because voters’ registration couldn’t be verified, and ballots issued because voters didn’t appear at their correct neighborhood precincts.
  • The ruling came in a lawsuit filed Nov. 5 by Common Cause Georgia, a nonprofit voter advocacy organization. This lawsuit is different from those filed by the Democratic Party of Georgia and supported by Democratic candidates like Stacey Abrams and Carolyn Bourdeaux.
  • After the Secretary of State’s Office reports information about provisional ballots, Totenberg could issue further rulings on how they should be handled before the election is certified. Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden is scheduled to certify the election by Nov. 20. Totenberg’s order said the election can’t be certified before Friday at 5 p.m.

-- Mark Niesse

10:29 a.m.: A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Gwinnett County officials must still count absentee ballots that contain errors or omissions in birthdates. 

The ruling only applies to Gwinnett County but it mirrors guidance sent by the secretary of state late Monday to direct county officials how to handle the votes. 

Brian Kemp’s campaign said the ruling will affect roughly 400 ballots in Gwinnett, where the tight race for Georgia’s 7th District also hangs in the balance. Statewide, less than 1,000 of these ballots have been tossed for similar issues. 

In a statement, Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo celebrated the ruling and another court order as “wins for Georgians’ fundamental right - the right to cast a ballot.” 

9:37 a.m.: Late Monday, we learned that a federal judge ordered a review of thousands of uncounted provisional ballots. Counties still must certify their election results today, but the state is prohibited from doing so until Friday at the earliest. The state deadline to certify the election by Nov. 20 remains.

The review requires a statewide hotline for voters to check on the status of their provisional ballots and requires updated reports. Read more on the judge’s ruling here.

-- Mark Niesse

6 a.m.: We’re paying closest attention to the biggest trove of provisional votes still outstanding. 

Most of the provisional ballots from Cobb and Fulton counties have already been added to the state tally, but thousands of additional potential votes could be added from DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. A few hundred more could come from Muscogee County.

These three counties are all heavily Democratic territory where Abrams must gain significant ground on Kemp if she has any chance of forcing a runoff. Kemp’s campaign, meanwhile, said she’s got no mathematical chance. 

-- Greg Bluestein 

Read More

News

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Trump said brave warriors from the nation’s past have shown that “in America, we are the captains of our own fate.” Fort McHenry is where a poem written during the War of 1812 became “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The fort is closed to the public because of the pandemic. Trump speaks at Memorial Day ceremony at Fort McHenry Update 12:05 p.m. EDT May 25: President Donald Trump is speaking Monday at a Memorial Day ceremony at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. 96 new fatal coronavirus cases reported in New York Update 11:45 a.m. EDT May 25: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Monday that 95 more people have died of COVID-19 statewide. The number was slightly less than the 109 new fatal cases reported one day earlier. Cuomo said hospitalization rate and the number of patients needing intubations continued to fall Monday, though he stressed that social distancing efforts need to continue. Trump to participate in Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Update 10:25 a.m. EDT May 25: President Donald Trump is set to participate in Monday morning’s wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley are also scheduled to participate. Pence: Republican National Convention will be moved from NC ‘if needs be’ Update 9:50 a.m. EDT May 25: Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that the Republican National Convention will be moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to another city “if needs be” due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event is scheduled to begin Aug. 24. “I think the president is absolutely intent on ensuring that as we see our nation continue to make steady progress on putting the coronavirus epidemic in the past that, come this August, we’ll be able to come together in a safe and responsible venue and renominate President Donald Trump for four more years,” the vice president said Monday during an appearance on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends.' His comments came after Trump wrote in a series of messages posted earlier Monday on Twitter that Republicans “must immediately be given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.” The president framed the governor’s decision to keep businesses shut in the state due to the health threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic as a political decision by a Democratic governor. As of Sunday, the last date for which data was available, 23,222 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in North Carolina. Officials said at least 744 people have died. Stay-at-home order protesters plan demonstrations in North Carolina Update 9:05 a.m. EDT May 25: Protesters organized by the group ReOpen NC plan to hold a “Freedom Rally” Monday outside the governor’s mansion in North Carolina, WSOC-TV reported. “It would just be so appropriate to do it on Memorial Day and just really shine a light on honoring our fallen heroes and standing up for freedom right now,” said Ashley Smith of ReOpen NC, according to WSOC-TV. “We just all feel it is more important now -- than many of us have seen in our lifetime.” Protests were also planned for Monday in Charlotte, Asheville, Greensboro and Wilmington, WSOC-TV reported. Rally organizers told WTVD that Gov. Roy Cooper’s phased reopening of businesses was hurting the state’s economy. As of Sunday, the last date for which data was available, 23,222 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in North Carolina. Officials said at least 744 people have died. >> Read more on WSOCTV.com Volunteers work in the night to create scaled-back Memorial Day flag garden in Boston Update 7:48 a.m. EDT May 25: A Memorial Day tradition in Boston was made possible by a group of volunteers who worked through the night to honor our fallen heroes, WFXT is reporting. Each Memorial Day for the past decade, the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund has planted more than 37,000 flags on Boston Common – one flag for each fallen service member from Massachusetts since the Revolution. The project requires hundreds of volunteers, and due to coronavirus precautions and guidelines, organizers initially canceled the event this year. To keep the tradition alive, a group of 10 volunteers worked carefully overnight to plant 1,000 flags on the common. Each flag in the scaled-back display is 6 feet apart from the others, and organizers hope the smaller spectacle will minimize the number of people who visit the garden. People who plan on stopping by to see the display are asked to wear masks at all times, stay a safe distance away from others and be respectful. In addition to the flag garden, people were encouraged to create their own patriotic displays at home this year and share photos online using the hashtag #HeroesFlagGarden. A Monday morning ceremony at Boston Common will include speakers, a wreath-laying and a rendition of “Taps.” Florida reports lowest number of daily deaths since late March Update 5:04 a.m. EDT May 25: Florida health officials on Sunday reported five new coronavirus-related deaths statewide since Saturday – the lowest day-to-day increase since March 29, records show. According to Orlando’s WFTV, officials also reported 740 additional cases of the virus statewide since Saturday. As of Sunday, the total number of cases in the state was at 50,867, with 2,237 deaths. Read more here. ‘Person of interest’ identified in bias crimes against Asians in Seattle Update 3 a.m. EDT May 25: Police in Seattle are investigating a growing number of crimes targeting Asians during the outbreak. Seattle officers said the attacks started late Saturday afternoon in the heart of Ballard and moved to Golden Gardens Park. They believe one man is responsible for all the incidents. A victim at Golden Gardens Park said the man spat in his face. The workers at Thai Thani Restaurant said the man threw things at them while demanding to know if they are Chinese. “I hear some noise, and I see some guy angry, yelling,' Umboom Moore told Seattle’s KIRO-TV. That was the first time she knew something unusual was happening Saturday night at the restaurant where she works. “Just like some crazy guy,” she said. “So I just started taking pictures.” Her co-worker, Natthiya Chumdee, said he was yelling at her. “Right over there, he smashed the window,” she said. When he asked if she is Chinese, she told him everyone there is Thai. He asked her to kneel and swear to it. “Well, I’m not going to do that,” she said. “He’s starting [to] lose control. And he comes here, and he says, ‘You know, I’m going to slam the door, this table to you.’” The night before, Tonya McCabe got the brunt of his anger. “He said, ‘Are you Chinese?’” she said. “And I said, ‘No, we’re not.’ And he still kept yelling at us. And I said, ‘If you’re not going to leave, I’m going to call 911.’ And then he said, ‘Better [expletive] call 911.’” Just last week, a man was captured on camera shoving an Asian couple as they walked by. They told Seattle police he spat on them, too. The man in these latest attacks is described as white, 5 feet, 10 inches tall, in his mid-20s to mid-30s and is of a muscular build. He was wearing a white shirt and shorts. It is the same suspect description in two attacks at Golden Gardens Park on Saturday night. “I stand back there, and ... yell to him, ‘Get out, leave!’” said McCabe. It has McCabe and the others working at this restaurant finding a different way to get around this city that is now their home. “I’m afraid to like walk on the street or take a bus,” said McCabe. They told KIRO that the man also approached other Asian-owned businesses in the area before apparently heading to Golden Gardens Park. Anyone who recognizes him is asked to call Seattle police. 17-year-old Georgia boy becomes youngest in state to die from COVID-19 Update 2:24 a.m. EDT May 25: The Georgia Department of Public Health said Sunday that a 17-year-old boy has died of the coronavirus, marking the youngest fatality and first pediatric death in the state. Nancy Nydam with the department confirmed the information to Atlanta’s WSB-TV on Sunday. The teen was from Fulton County and had an underlying condition, according to officials. His identity has not been released. More than 1,800 people have died of COVID-19 in Georgia since the outbreak began, with the median age of deaths at 73.6 years old, according to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of COVID-19 in children have typically been less severe, though there has been growing concern and a new warning about a rare condition recently seen in dozens of children nationwide. A spokesperson for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta confirmed that a team of infectious disease and cardiology experts are evaluating several cases in metro Atlanta of children who exhibited Kawasaki-like symptoms and inflammation. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta physician specialists stressed that it appears to be a rare finding with a low rate in Georgia. New York health officials have already issued a warning about a rare inflammatory syndrome that has infected at least 64 children in that state. A spokesperson for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said they have experts for treating the symptoms regardless of a potential link to COVID-19. Families should contact their doctor or visit an emergency room if their child develops signs of illness such as high fever, rash, red eyes, abdominal pain and swelling of the face, hands or feet. US coronavirus cases top 1.6M, deaths near 98K Update 12:43 a.m. EDT May 25: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged past 1.6 million early Monday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,643,238 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 97,720 deaths. The hardest-hit states remain New York, with 361,515 cases and 29,141 deaths, and New Jersey, with 154,154 cases and 11,138 deaths. Massachusetts, with 92,675 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,372, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 110,304. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 5,000 cases each. Seven other states have now confirmed at least 42,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 94,020 cases, resulting in 3,754 deaths • Pennsylvania: 71,563 cases, resulting in 5,136 deaths • Texas: 55,861 cases, resulting in 1,528 deaths • Michigan: 54,679 cases, resulting in 5,228 deaths • Florida: 50,867 cases, resulting in 2,237 deaths • Maryland: 46,313 cases, resulting in 2,277 deaths • Georgia: 42,902 cases, resulting in 1,827 deaths Meanwhile, Connecticut has confirmed at least 40,468 cases; Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 31,000 cases; Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota and Tennessee each has confirmed more than 20,000 cases; Washington, Iowa, Arizona and Wisconsin each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases; Alabama and Rhode Island each has confirmed more than 14,000 cases; Mississippi, Missouri and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases; South Carolina has confirmed at least 10,000 cases; Kansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Utah and the District of Columbia each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by Nevada with more than 7,000; New Mexico and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases, followed by Arkansas with more than 5,000; South Dakota and New Hampshire each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; and Oregon and Puerto Rico each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Officials with the World Health Organization announced the group has temporarily paused its trial of an antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump as a possible treatment for COVID-19 due to concerns over its safety. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the WHO said Monday that the decision was made in light of an observational study published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet which found that coronavirus patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine or a combination of either drug and an antibiotic were at a higher risk for death. “The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally,” Tedros said Monday. “The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and, in particular, robust randomized available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug.' Tedros said other coronavirus drug trials were continuing Monday. “This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19,” Tedros stressed. “I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.” In the study published in The Lancet, researchers reviewed more than 96,000 COVID-19 cases in which patients were hospitalized between late December and mid-April. The data used for the study, which included 15,000 cases in which patients were treated with either hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine or a combination of the drugs with an antibiotic, came from 671 hospitals on six continents, researchers said. “We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine ... on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19,” researchers said in a summary of their findings. “Each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19.” Trump has dismissed concerns around the safety of hydroxychloroquine and told reporters last week that he was taking a two-week regiment of the drug to protect himself against a coronavirus infection. The president said he was not advised to take the drug but that he instead requested it himself from the White House physician. Scientists continue to race toward a vaccine for COVID-19, which White House officials have said is expected by the end of the year. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday that he was confident a vaccine would be ready in the timeline given by officials. “(The Department of Defense) has the expertise and the capacity of course, to get the manufacturing done and the logistics and I’m confident that we will deliver,” he said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show. The United States has by far the most number of COVID-19 cases in the world with more than 1.6 million reported as of Monday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. At least 97,850 people have died of coronavirus infections nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins.
  • Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday urged voters to return their absentee ballots in time for the June 9 primary, even as thousands of Fulton County voters are waiting for their ballots to arrive and the coronavirus forced some early voting locations to close. About 1 million voters who requested absentee ballots haven’t yet turned them in, according to state election data through Sunday. “Vote from the convenience of your own kitchen table. Take your time to do it, but get it done as soon as you can,” Raffensperger said in an interview. “Sooner better than later, because it has to be received by June 9, no later than 7 p.m., to be counted.” So far, over 551,000 voters have returned their absentee ballots, and another 77,000 voted in person during the first week of early voting. More than 25,000 Fulton voters still haven’t received their absentee ballots as the county’s elections office has struggled to process a flood of ballot requests, especially those that were emailed. Fulton election officials said the backlog would be eliminated by Memorial Day, but the county processed just 3,000 absentee ballot requests from Friday to Sunday. “It’s concerning that they’re still not caught up,” Raffensperger said. “What that has done has created concern on voters who say, ‘I haven’t received my absentee ballot, and yet I emailed that back in early. What’s the delay?’” If Fulton voters don’t receive their absentee ballots soon, they might not have much time to return them by the state’s election day deadline. A federal lawsuit is asking a judge to rule that ballots should be counted as long as they’re postmarked by election day. Other counties are dealing with coronavirus-related problems, Raffensperger said. Appling County will reopen its only early voting location Tuesday after it was closed Friday for cleaning because a voter tested positive for the coronavirus. In McDuffie County, two election workers caught the coronavirus, leaving its elections staff shorthanded. “Particularly on Memorial Day, we think about the huge sacrifice armed forces members made, sacrificing their lives, so we would have the freedom to be a free people and be able to freely vote,” Raffenpserger said. “These are trying times, and we encourage everyone to complete the process if you requested an absentee ballot.” You may find this story and more at AJC.com.
  • Gwinnett County police are investigating Monday the shooting death of Richard St. John in Norcross. Officers found the 70-year-old sometime around 8:30 p.m. Sunday after a 911 caller reported a male had been shot on Brittney Way near Phil Niekro Parkway. St. John was taken to a hospital, where he died of his injuries. No further information about the victim or the circumstances surrounding his death were available Monday morning. Police are asking anyone with information related to the shooting to contact GCPD detectives at 770-513-5300. To remain anonymous, tipsters should contact Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or visit Crime Stoppers. Crime Stoppers tipsters can receive a cash reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in this case. Case Number: 20-038848 You may find this story and more at AJC.com.
  • More than 60 residents were displaced by two separate fires over the Memorial Day weekend in DeKalb and Newton counties, according to the American Red Cross. In the first fire at the Sierra Village Apartments in Brookhaven, eight units were destroyed Sunday leaving 41 people homeless. Firefighters responded to the blaze on Oak Shadow Lane around 8:15 a.m. Sunday. One person suffered minor burns, DeKalb Fire Capt. Dion Bentley said. Then in a second incident early Monday, fire broke out at the Magnolia Heights Apartments in Covington, where 26 people were displaced. Fire department officials could not be reached for comment. Along with emotional support, Sherry Nicholson, the Red Cross’s regional communication director, said volunteers provided assistance for those who were displaced to help with essentials such as temporary lodging, food, clothing, and replacement medications. Caseworkers will continue to work with the families in the weeks ahead to help them begin their recovery. Fire officials were still unaware of the cause of either fire early Monday. You may find this story and more at AJC.com.