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    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.
  • After facing weeks of criticism for not being transparent with data about the coronavirus, state officials on Wednesday acknowledged that a test type that does not measure active cases inflated published test counts by 57,000, or roughly 14% of total tests to date. For weeks now, the Department of Public Health has included antibody tests, which can detect if someone once had the coronavirus, with diagnostic tests that measure active infection in its total tally of about 403,000 tests. Experts say it is misleading to count the tests together because it distorts a state’s capacity to track current infections. » NEW DASHBOARD: The AJC’s redesigned page of real-time charts tracking the virus » COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia The department’s inclusion of antibody tests in testing counts, first reported by the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, surprised DPH Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey and prompted the governor’s office to request that the department remove antibody tests from the state’s totals. Toomey told the AJC she was unaware so many antibody tests were being included. “It’s not really an error. It’s a way it was collected,” she said. “I didn’t fully appreciate how many antibody tests have been done.” The testing admission is the latest in a series of missteps in how DPH has presented coronavirus data to the public, and it led to another round of harsh criticism for an agency that has been held up to national ridicule for its handling of public health information. “Either they don’t know what they’re doing, or (the data is) being manipulated in ways it shouldn’t,” said Dr. Harry J. Heiman, a clinical associate professor at the Georgia State University School of Public Health. “Either way it is very concerning.” » RELATED: Georgia playing catch up in coronavirus testing » FROM APRIL: New changes to state’s virus data confuse experts, residents alike In April, Gov. Brian Kemp called the state’s poor national ranking in its share of residents tested for the virus “unacceptable,” and challenged public health officials and private companies ramp up the state’s testing capacity. Earlier this week, he publicly touted the state’s rise to 20th in the nation as an important step forward. Removing antibody tests from the state’s testing total, however, now drops Georgia’s per capita ranking to 29th, according to the AJC’s analysis of national testing data. Expert warnings Experts warn states against lumping antibody and diagnostic virus tests together as they track how many tests have been completed. Diagnostic tests for the virus detect whether someone is currently ill. Tracking how many of them have been completed can show whether a state is doing enough to respond to the pandemic. Tests for the antibody are designed to show whether a person was previously infected and miss people who recently contracted the virus, said Benjamin Lopman, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Emory University. “It’s not appropriate to combine those numbers here,” said Lopman, an expert on using statistical analysis and other tools to address public health issues. Last week, The COVID Tracking Project, a top source for national data, called combining antibody and viral testing figures a “deceptive misuse of the data.” A controversy in Virginia led that state to announce last Thursday that it would remove the antibody figures from its overall testing number. DPH spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said in an email that staffers are working on ways to disclose that both tests are included on its online COVID-19 Daily Status Report, and said that the agency had included the antibody tests in its counts in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Toomey told the AJC she recognized her department’s handling of virus data has been a problem. “Data are only good if you can look at them and understand what they mean,” she said. “As an epidemiologist this is something very important to me. We want to make sure we do everything we can to get these data in the most accurate but also easy to understand format.” Earlier mistakes This most recent data problem prompted demands for a transparent accounting of how and why the state has made so many unforced errors with COVID-19 data in recent weeks. Some such as a death toll miscount could have been the result of typos. Others have repeatedly mislead Georgians to think new confirmed cases of the virus were dropping dramatically when they had plateaued. While DPH has not been including positive antibody tests results in the total of confirmed cases, earlier this week the agency removed 231 positive cases from the state’s tally of new confirmed cases, saying in a statement that it mistakenly included antibody test results in the count. Antibody tests only became available to the public in recent weeks and were not included in DPH’s original test tracking totals. “Either they don’t know what they’re doing, or (the data is) being manipulated in ways it shouldn’t. Either way it is very concerning.” —Dr. Harry J. Heiman, clinical associate professor at the GSU School of Public Health The problems have led some to wonder whether bad information is being used to inform public policy. Public health experts track closely a measure called positivity, which is the share of all tests for the virus that have come back positive. A high positivity rate may mean that a state is only testing the sickest people and does not have a good sense of the disease’s prevalence. A low one can mean a state knows enough to make informed decisions about reopening businesses, schools and swimming pools. Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center listed Georgia as among its top 20 states for positivity at 3.52%, but the inclusion of the antibody tests throw the state’s apparent successes into question. Transparency Recent mistakes have portrayed the state’s COVID response in a more positive light than it had earned, said State Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta. “Maybe one mistake is an accident. A second — that’s a little funny,” Jordan said. “But after you get to the third or fourth time, with the mistakes representing a specific conclusion, you have to start to wonder what is happening in terms of management of data.” T.J. Muehleman, who helped start the COVID Mapping Project, an online tool to help bring clarity to confusing health data reported across the U.S., has been among those perplexed by Georgia’s data stumbles. “The state that’s home to the CDC, Georgia Tech, Emory University and the Morehouse School of Medicine — how do you have such a terrible data communication platform?” Muehleman said. » RELATED: State’s latest data mishap causes critics to cry foul » MORE: Error leads to dip in state’s COVID-19 case count But Muehleman said the state’s testing capacity appears to be moving in the right direction and he said he doesn’t believe the errors are deliberate. “I suspect this is them moving at a very, very rapid clip to be responsive,” Muehleman said. “It is disappointing. All the data problems they have had have been avoidable and certainly all the data problems they have would be solved with transparency.” J.C. Bradbury, an economics professor at Kennesaw State University who tracks the Department of Public Health data and publishes his own graphs on Twitter, said this latest data reporting controversy shows that the state needs oversight. He said DPH should invite the media to watch its number crunching operation much as elections offices do on election nights. “It would go a long way to establish credibility,” he said. Dr. Melanie Thompson, principal investigator of the AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta and a practicing physician, said she grew suspicious of DPH’s testing figure after it pulled back the 231 positive tests earlier this week. “The question I have is who made this decision?” she said. “Who made the decision to do this? I wish the Department of Public Health would let the (epidemiology) group talk.” Staff writer Tamar Hallerman contributed to this report.
  • Current statewide hospitalizations for COVID-19 dropped by about a third in the last two weeks, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of data published by the Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency. The decline is significant, but it does not mean that infections are down since Georgia began to re-open at the end of April. There is about a two week lag between when a person is infected, shows symptoms, is admitted to the hospital, gets tested and receives the results. A press release from Gov. Brian Kemp said there were 986 patients currently hospitalized as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, which was an important milestone for the state. It was the lowest number of patients hospitalized since hospitals started reporting data to GEMA on April 8, it said. “We’ve got to keep our foot on the gas. What we’re doing is working,” Kemp said on The Erick Erickson Show on WSB Atlanta’s News & Talk. An AJC analysis found hospitalizations for the novel coronavirus stood at just above 1,025 as of 7 p.m. Monday, according to GEMA’s latest daily situation report. It was 1,500 as of May 2, the date that GEMA first reported the measure publicly. Prior to that, the agency was publishing daily cumulative hospitalization figures. The AJC is now tracking current hospitalizations on its COVID-19 data dashboard to give readers a clearer picture of coronavirus in Georgia. The tracker uses GEMA’s daily figures, which are based on 7 p.m. reports. »NEW DASHBOARD: The AJC’s redesigned page of real-time charts tracking the virus Kemp downplayed criticisms in recent weeks that confusing or incorrect coronavirus data published by the Georgia Department of Public Health have harmed the public’s trust in the information the state is releasing. “It’s really not a big issue. People trust the data. I certainly do,” Kemp said. GEMA began to publish current COVID hospitalizations on its daily situation report to give the public a better idea of the availability of hospital resources, a spokesperson for the agency said. It gets its figures from DPH. It does not include those hospitalized who are being investigated for suspected novel coronavirus infections. Experts agree that Georgia’s April lockdown slowed the spread of the virus successfully. They also expect cases and deaths to rise in the coming weeks now that the state’s shelter-in-place order has been lifted and more people are venturing from the safety of their homes.
  • The Georgia Department of Public Health’s published count of statewide COVID-19 cases declined during the weekend because the agency corrected a data coding error, a spokeswoman said Monday. The agency mistakenly logged the results of 231 tests that check for COVID-19 antibodies as diagnostic tests, causing them to be coded as confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, DPH spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said. The case count ticked down Sunday when the error was corrected. Current confirmed cases stand at about 38,000. Antibody tests are designed to tell those who are not currently ill whether they were exposed to the virus. Diagnostic tests show whether a person is currently sick. “We are working diligently to provide the most accurate information, and we apologize for any confusion,” the agency said in a written statement. DPH disclosed the error on its online daily status report, where the mistake originally appeared. Georgians are watching closely the COVID-19 case count and other measures on DPH’s online status report as they judge whether its safe to resume work and other activities. DPH has come under fire in recent weeks for presenting confusing or incorrect information on its online status report. » Complete coverage: Coronavirus
  • Election officials can begin opening absentee ballots eight days before Georgia’s June 9 primary, according to a State Election Board rule approved Monday to deal with a deluge of mailed-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. The board voted unanimously to pass the emergency rule, which will help election officials handle record numbers of absentee ballots. In previous elections, absentee ballots couldn’t be processed until election day. Even though ballots can be opened in advance, election results in some races might not be known for several days after the primary because of the time needed to count absentee ballots. It will take much longer to scan and count absentee ballots than it would on Georgia’s new in-person voting system, which combines touchscreens and printed-out paper ballots. So far, over 1.4 million voters have requested absentee ballots. Polls opened Monday for three weeks of in-person early voting. “For this once-in-a-lifetime unprecedented emergency, this regulation painstakingly attempts to balance transparency and security,” State Election Board member Matt Mashburn said during the meeting held via teleconference. The rule authorizes county election workers to open and scan absentee ballots in advance, but those votes can’t be counted until polls close at 7 p.m. June 9. Until then, votes will be stored in the memory of optical scanning computers, the same as votes cast in person during early voting. So many people are planning to vote by mail as a way to avoid human contact at polling places. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the chairman of the State Election Board, encouraged absentee voting by sending ballot request forms to the state’s 6.9 million active voters. Voters said during public comments that they remain worried, especially in Fulton County, where tens of thousands of voters haven’t received their absentee ballots. Fulton had processed 110,000 ballot requests through Saturday, with many more still being processed. “Many counties have a backlog of absentee applications, and it appears hopeless we’ll get our ballots in time for the presidential election,” said Garland Favorito, the founder of the group Voter GA, who applied for his absentee ballot on March 20 but hasn’t received it. Statewide, 1.25 million of the 1.44 million ballots requested have been delivered to voters, according to the secretary of state’s office. More than 360,000 ballots have been returned and accepted by county election offices. “With this many absentee ballots coming in, if there is going to be a way to get results any time quickly after the election, we think we need to allow counties to start processing these absentee ballots early,” said Ryan Germany, the general counsel for the secretary of state’s office.
  • Some voters encountered lines when early voting began Monday for Georgia’s primary as election workers kept people 6 feet apart, allowed only a few inside at a time and cleaned touchscreens after each voter. Turnout appeared to be relatively light, but voters still had to wait their turn. Lines were also slowed by voters who requested absentee ballots but then had to cancel them when they showed up at early voting locations. Though more than 1.4 million voters have requested absentee ballots, in-person voting is still an option. Early voting lasts for three weeks until June 5, and election day is June 9. PHOTOS: Georgians head to polls for early voting “I haven’t heard any disagreement and hollering. People are being patient. They understand the situation,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said as people voted at the Cobb County elections office. Voters who asked for an absentee ballot should wait for it to arrive in the mail and then use it rather than slowing down in-person voting, he said. “Don’t change horses midstream,” Raffensperger said. “It really will work a whole lot better.” In-person voters were greeted by changes at early voting locations during the coronavirus pandemic. Poll workers wore masks and gloves. Precincts provided styluses so voters wouldn’t have to use their fingers on touchscreens. Voters were offered hand sanitizer before and after voting. Several Georgians who chose to vote in person said they felt their vote was more secure than if they had mailed it in. About 3% of absentee ballots were rejected in the 2018 election, often because voters didn’t fill out their information correctly or their ballots were received after the election day deadline. “I don’t feel confident with absentee ballots, so I came out to vote in person,” said Earlean Blackwell of Powder Springs after casting her ballot. Voters must be quickly notified when election officials reject their absentee ballots, giving them time to correct problems, according to a March settlement of a lawsuit against the state. Waits in Cobb County were as long as 70 minutes Monday morning but diminished to 20 minutes by midafternoon. “The process is much slower than before due to distancing and sanitation requirements,” Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler said. A reduction in the number of early voting locations also contributed to waits. Fewer early voting locations were available than normal because of coronavirus-related limitations in metro Atlanta’s core counties: five in Cobb County, eight in DeKalb County, five in Fulton County and six in Gwinnett County. Hours and dates vary for each location. “Whenever you start with a line, you end up playing catch-up,” Gwinnett County Elections Director Kristi Royston said. “We’re grateful for them coming out to vote and having patience with us. I think they’re getting used to the ‘stand here, wait here’ procedures.” In Fulton County, only half of voting computers were in use at a time in an effort to keep people apart from each other, Elections Director Richard Barron said. Nearly all voters wore masks, he said. The county was still catching up on a backlog of absentee ballot requests from people who plan to vote by mail. About 110,000 out of 135,000 absentee ballot requests have been processed so far. Early voters are using the state’s new $104 million voting system, which combines touchscreens with the addition of printed-out paper ballots. Voters can check their ballots before inserting them into scanners attached to locked ballot boxes. All registered voters are eligible to participate in the primary, and they can choose to vote on either political party’s ballot or a nonpartisan ballot. Ballots include candidates for president, Congress, the Georgia General Assembly, judges and local offices. Voters can find out where to vote and review sample ballots on the My Voter Page at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
  • Voting while social distancing starts Monday with the first day of in-person early voting for Georgia’s primary. Voters will stand 6 feet apart. They’ll use hand sanitizer when checking in. In some counties, they’ll tap a touchscreen with a stylus instead of a finger. More than 1.3 million voters have requested absentee ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, but state law requires three weeks of in-person early voting before the June 9 election. RELATED: How to vote by mail in Georgia's June 9 primary Fewer early voting locations will be available, but several will remain open: five in Cobb County, eight in DeKalb County, five in Fulton County and six in Gwinnett County. “If you choose to vote in person, please continue to practice social distancing and stay home if you are sick,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who mailed absentee ballot request forms to the state’s 6.9 million active voters. Each polling place in Georgia will have hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies. Poll workers in some counties will ask voters to wait in their cars for a text telling them it’s their turn to vote. Officials will wear gloves, and they’ll frequently wipe down touchscreens. Voting booths will be spread out. » EARLY VOTING  GUIDES:  Cobb  |  DeKalb  |  Fulton |  Gwinnett With so many people voting by mail, election officials said in-person turnout might be lower because voters want to avoid human contact. So far, more than 212,000 voters have returned absentee ballots for the combined general primary and presidential primary. By comparison, about 37,000 people cast absentee-by-mail ballots in the 2016 primary. Before the March 24 presidential primary was delayed because of the coronavirus threat, nearly 289,000 voters cast ballots. Those voters are still eligible to participate in the primary, but their ballots will exclude the presidential race. The primary might be the largest test yet of Georgia’s new $104 million voting system, which combines familiar touchscreens with the addition of printed-out paper ballots. Voters will be able to check their ballots before inserting them into scanners attached to locked ballot boxes. Voters can find their voting locations, review sample ballots and request absentee ballots on the state’s My Voter Page at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
  • The Georgia Department of Public Health said Saturday it is distributing the first of two allotments of a promising anti-viral drug to eight hospitals across the state to help patients suffering from severe symptoms of COVID-19. In a news release, DPH said the distribution of remdesivir is based on need and U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, and all eight hospitals have at least 10 positive patients on ventilators or other breathing assistance. “DPH is pleased to have the opportunity to share this promising treatment with hospitals on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19,” DPH Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey said in the release. “While this drug is not a cure for COVID-19, getting it into the hospitals and improving patient outcomes is moving in the right direction.” The first allotment of the drug will treat about 110 patients, the state said. The hospitals receiving the medicine are: Tift Regional Medical Center, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Grady Health System, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown and Augusta University Medical Center. Remdesivir is produced by Gilead Sciences. The drug was initially developed as a treatment for the Ebola virus and clinical trials have showed promise against the novel coronavirus. Emory conducted a trial of the drug in recent weeks, and the medication was granted an emergency use authorization by the FDA. But it has not gained full approval. The state has received a second allotment, which the release said is much larger. That distribution, which is still being planned, will happen in the coming days.
  • Hundreds gathered for a rally and march in Brunswick Saturday and called for the resignations of two South Georgia district attorneys, alleging the prosecutors committed misconduct in their handling of the investigation into the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. “We came to tell Jackie Johnson your time is up,” said Derrick Boazman, a former Atlanta City Councilman who spoke at the rally after joining in a caravan from Atlanta to Brunswick Saturday morning. Civil rights leaders, pastors, relatives of Arbery and other supporters gathered at the Glynn County Courthouse and demanded the resignations of Johnson, the Glynn district attorney, and George Barnhill, the DA in the Waycross circuit. “Their mishandling of the case, the fact they would make a public statement when they recused themselves … just reeks with prosecutorial misconduct,” said Mawuli Davis, an organizer for the caravan and an attorney with the Davis Bozeman law firm. “And it should not be allowed for them to continue to serve the citizens. The citizens of Georgia deserve better.” Both DAs have denied any wrongdoing in how they handled the investigation into the Feb. 23 shooting. Johnson said she recused herself from the case because one of the alleged assailants, Gregory McMichael, once worked as an investigator in her office, and Barnhill stepped in. Barnhill declined to prosecute and ultimately stepped down. But the case took a sharp turn when the GBI began investigating the case earlier this month. The GBI arrested McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, May 7 after reviewing evidence including a 36-second video that captured the shooting and, upon its public release, sparked national outrage. Both men were charged with felony homicide and aggravated assault and have been denied bond. Arbery’s family has said he was out for a jog when the McMichaels confronted him. Protests and runs in solidarity with Arbery’s family have sprung up across the country since the video of the shooting became public. Glynn County commissioners Peter Murphy and Allen Booker have said Johnson’s office told police not to make any arrests immediately after the shooting, which she has disputed in statements and a recent radio interview. In an early April letter to Glynn police, Barnhill wrote that the McMichaels were legally carrying weapons and were entitled to pursue and detain Arbery under the law that allows for citizen’s arrest. The McMichaels said they suspected Arbery of burglaries and that he became violent when confronted, none of which has been substantiated. In his letter, Barnhill said he believed Arbery had “mental health issues,” without providing medical evidence. A national association of district attorneys condemned Barnhill’s actions, saying, “No prosecutor should inject his or her opinion into a pending case to the point where she or he becomes a potential witness and risks compromising the just outcome of a case.” John Perry, president of the Brunswick chapter of the NAACP, said the Arbery killing spurred an awakening. “Justice is saying we need to clean up the house of Glynn County,” he said. “That we have to have a law enforcement and a system that will do right by all people.” The rally turned into a march to a nearby police station after a relative of Arbery’s said the police share some responsibility for Arbery’s death. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Friday that Gregory McMichael had offered his help to police to watch for unwanted visits to a home under construction in the Satilla Shores neighborhood where Arbery was shot. A Glynn police officer, Robert Rash, texted McMichael’s phone number to a property owner in the neighborhood and said McMichael had offered assistance if anyone else came onto the construction site. Saturday’s demonstration started with a caravan of Arbery supporters that left a southwest Atlanta church about 8:30 a.m. for Brunswick, where the crowd joined hundreds more on the coast. Members of the caravan posted signs in their cars reading, “Justice for Ahmaud” and “Riding for Maud!!” The Rev. Gerald L. Durley, a member of the Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta and a longtime civil rights leader, said members of the caravan have taken up the torch of predecessors, including the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “You are going to Brunswick today to light up that place and get rid of those DAs and don’t feel no way tired,” Durley said. Andrea Young, executive director of ACLU of Georgia, said her organization is calling for an end to citizen’s arrest laws. “These laws let people think they can be vigilantes and take the law into their own hands,” she said. Staff writer Brad Schrade contributed to this report. 
  • Stacey Abrams took her vice-presidential tryout to primetime on Thursday when she appeared on an MSNBC virtual town hall with Joe Biden. The Georgia Democrat used the appearance to push for an expansion of vote-by-mail programs and demand changes to the criminal justice system after the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old unarmed black jogger who was gunned down in south Georgia. “What we know is we have to not only rebuild America, but as Joe Biden said so eloquently, restore the soul of America,” Abrams said. “Rebuilding our democracy means making sure we restore our soul and that we treat every citizen as valid and equally deserving of justice.” Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, echoed her stance. He said the graphic video of Arbery’s killing has prompted a significant societal change: “The blinders have been taken off.” “Good people who haven’t been focused on this before are all of a sudden saying, ‘My God I didn’t have any idea how deeply this institutional racism runs,” he said. More: Abrams highlights foreign policy in pursuit of VP nomination More: Ahmaud Arbery slaying shifts political debate in Georgia In the days leading up to the town hall, Abrams formally endorsed Biden after long staying neutral in the race. In their first joint TV appearance, conducted on socially-distant split screens, she showered praise on Biden and touted his decades-long record in the U.S. Senate. He responded in kind by promoting her Fair Fight Action voting rights initiative and lauding her as an “incredibly capable person.” And when she was asked by a viewer why she passed on a U.S. Senate race but is jockeying for vice president, Biden jumped in: “She’s capable of doing both.” Abrams has engaged in an extraordinarily candid effort to persuade Biden to select her for the No. 2 spot, flipping the script of potential running mates who usually sidestep public talk of a promotion while working behind the scenes to do just that. But the Georgia Democrat is also keeping one eye on another campaign against Gov. Brian Kemp, a rematch that’s seen by her allies as a near certainty in 2022 if Biden passes her over this summer.

News

  • Two people were killed early Monday after a car crashed into a Houston motel and caught fire, authorities said. The vehicle slammed into the Super 8 Motel in northern Harris County near the North Freeway around 1:45 a.m., KTRK reported. The crash left a large hole and extensive damage in the front office of the motel, police said. “The guy went off the road and crashed right into the hotel,” Chris Young, who witnessed the crash, told KRPC. Harris County Precinct 4 investigators said it appeared the car flipped onto its side before hitting the building, according to KHOU. It was not clear if both victims were in the car or staying at the motel, the television station reported. However, some witnesses told KRPC the victims were in the sedan. The motel manager also said the people in the car had been killed, KTRK reported. The motel manager told KTRK that no employees were injured, although a clerk was standing behind the counter when the crash occurred. The manager said the motel’s sprinkler system prevented the fire from spreading, the television station reported. “Once they actually got (the fire) put out, we could see the back portion of the vehicle that was actually in the lobby,” Young told KPRC.
  • An Iowa woman is accused of trying to stab a cat with a kitchen knife and then trying to drown it, authorities said. Rosemary Kay Buelow, 21, of Des Moines, was charged with animal torture in connection with the Sunday morning incident, the Des Moines Register reported. Police officers responded to a call at 2 a.m. Sunday, the newspaper reported. Buelow told police her “aggressive” cat had bitten her while she was showering and she stabbed the animal in self-defense. Des Moines Police Department Sgt. Paul Parizek told the Register. “Officers discovered serious inconsistencies and, upon further investigation, learned that Buelow had stabbed the cat, and then attempted to drown it because she didn’t want to care for it anymore and she did not believe that any shelter would take the cat,” Parizek told the newspaper. According to a criminal complaint, Buelow allegedly stabbed the cat three times in the back before attempting to drown the animal in a bathtub. The condition of the cat was unknown. Buelow was being held at the Polk County Jail on a $2,000 bond, the Register reported.
  • Officials with the Georgia Aquarium announced a new addition Sunday after the aquarium’s 20-year-old beluga whale gave birth this month to a calf. The not-so-little baby beluga, born May 17 to a whale named Whisper, weighed 174 pounds at birth and measured 5.4 feet in length. The average weight of a beluga calf at birth is between 119 and 145 pounds and the average length is between 4.5 and 5.1 feet. The Georgia Aquarium remained closed Monday to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic. Aquarium officials said their teams were closely monitoring mom and baby on Sunday. “We are so proud of Whisper and overjoyed to welcome her calf to our Georgia Aquarium family,” said Dennis Christen, senior director of zoological operations, mammals and birds at the Georgia Aquarium. “We will be there right alongside the calf as it continues to grow and learn from Whisper.” Officials said other beluga whales housed at the Georgia Aquarium, Qinu, Maple, Nunavik and Imaq, were doing well Sunday and were in a separate area of the exhibit. The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
  • More than 5.4 million people worldwide – including at least 1.6 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Monday, May 25, continue below: Connecticut reports 49 new COVID-19 related deaths Update 4:29 p.m. EDT May 25: Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s office issued a statement that said there were 495 new coronavirus cases and 49 deaths. Some of the numbers have been compiled over the last several days to a week, Lamont said. As of 2 p.m. today, the state now has a total of 40,873 cases of coronavirus and 3,742 deaths. On Tuesday, Lamont reported there were 3,693 deaths. At least 706 Covid-19 patients have been hospitalized. Officials respond to Trump’s threat to pull RNC from North Carolina Update 3:55 p.m. EDT May 25: Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina and other officials responded Monday after President Donald Trump threatened to pull the Republican National Convention from Charlotte due to the state’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, WSOC-TV reported. In a series of tweets published Monday, Trump said Cooper must immediately tell organizers whether or not they’ll be able to host the convention as expected from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 at the Spectrum Center and Charlotte Convention Center. “Plans are being made by thousands of enthusiastic Republicans and others to head to beautiful North Carolina in August,” the president wrote. “They must be immediately given an answer by the governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.” Cooper said Monday that state health officials are working with the Republican National Committee and reviewing their plans for holding the convention, WSOC-TV reported. “North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health and safety,” Cooper said, according to WSOC-TV. As of Monday, 23,964 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in North Carolina. Officials said at least 754 people have died of COVID-19 statewide. >> Read more on WSOCTV.com Most stores in England will be allowed to reopen in June Update 3:40 p.m. EDT May 25: The vast majority of shops in England will be allowed to reopen next month as the government gradually eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said outdoor markets and spacious car showrooms will be allowed to open from June 1 because the likelihood of transmission is low there. Clothes stores, bookshops, tailors, auctioneers and other retailers will follow on June 15, as long as the number of infections continues to fall and the businesses can be made “COVID-19 secure.” The other parts of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — can set their own timetables. Since a nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 23, only shops classed as “essential,” such as supermarkets, have been allowed to operate. Pennsylvania reports lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since mid-March Update 3:35 p.m. EDT May 25: Officials in Pennsylvania on Monday reported the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since mid-March, according to WPXI. Officials with the state Department of Health reported 473 new coronavirus infections Monday, bringing the statewide total to 68,186 cases, WPXI reported. About 61% of those diagnosed have since recovered, according to health officials. As of Monday, 5,139 people have died statewide of COVID-19, WPXI reported. >> Read more on WPXI.com 1,625 new coronavirus infections reported in the UK Update 3:15 p.m. EDT May 25: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 1,625 new coronavirus infections Monday morning, raising the country’s total number of infections to 261,184. Officials said that as of 9 a.m. local time, 36,914 people had died nationwide of COVID-19. Nearly 38,000 coronavirus cases reported in Louisiana Update 3 p.m. EDT May 25: Officials in Louisiana reported 640 new coronavirus infections Monday, raising the state’s total number of infections to 37,809. The number was far higher than average due to a server issue which delayed reports of positive cases from commercial lab data, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. Statewide, at least 2,585 people have died of COVID-19 and at least 28,700 people have recovered from the viral infection, officials said. Patrick Ewing released from hospital after coronavirus diagnosis Update 2:25 p.m. EDT May 25: Basketball Hall of Famer and Georgetown men’s basketball coach Patrick Ewing has been released from a hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, his son said Monday in a post on Twitter. Patrick Ewing Jr. said his father was resting Monday at home and continuing his recovery. “I want to thank all of the doctors and hospital staff for taking care of my father during his stay, as well as everyone who has reached out with thoughts and prayers to us and since his diagnosis,” the younger Ewing said in a post on Twitter. “I hope everyone continues to stay safe and protect yourselves and your loved ones.” The elder Ewing had announced Friday that he was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection. Number of deadly COVID-19 cases continues to fall in Massachusetts Update 2:10 p.m. EDT May 25: Officials in Massachusetts on Monday announced 68 new coronavirus-related deaths in the state, marking the fourth day in a row that the number of new deadly cases has decreased, according to WFXT. As of Monday, at least 6,372 people statewide have died of COVID-19, according to numbers released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Officials said 92,675 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state. >> Read more on Boston25News.com 965 new cases of COVID-19 reported in New Jersey Update 2 p.m. EDT May 25: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Monday that 965 new coronavirus infections have been reported, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 155,092. Murphy said officials also reported 16 more deaths, much smaller than the number of new daily deaths reported so far in the pandemic. He noted the low number might be due to delayed reporting over the holiday weekend. As of Monday, 11,144 people have died in New Jersey of COVID-19. WHO temporarily pauses review of antimalarial drug touted by Trump in COVID-19 fight Update 1:25 p.m. EDT May 25: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced Monday that the organization has paused a review of the efficacy of an antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump due to concerns over its safety for use in treating novel coronavirus infections. At a news conference Monday, Tedros said 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 antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine or a combination of the drugs 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. The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.' Tedros said other coronavirus drug trials were continuing Monday. “This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloraquine 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.” Trump honors fallen soldiers, military members fighting coronavirus pandemic on Memorial Day  Update 1:10 p.m. EDT May 25: President Donald Trump is mourning America’s fallen service members and noting that Memorial Day this year is different from years past. Marking the holiday at Baltimore’s historic Fort McHenry, Trump noted that tens of thousands of service members and national guard personnel are currently “on the frontlines of our war against this terrible virus.” The U.S. leads the world with more than 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and is approaching 100,000 deaths. 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.