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Why Trump is dominating everything about Georgia’s elections - Atlanta Journal Constitution
There’s no escaping President Donald Trump in Georgia, and how he fares in the battleground state will shape the rest of the down-ticket races.
Unlike in past election cycles, when divisive primaries gave way to broader electoral appeals, top candidates arent scrambling toward the middle. Leading Democrats have endorsed raising taxes on the wealthiest and taking stances on social issues that years ago would have doomed their campaigns. And after largely stamping out the Never Trump movement in Georgia, prominent Republican contenders arent moving an iota away from the president. Echoing the presidents reelection campaign, theyre warning of a descent into lawlessness in the suburbs if Biden wins and touting their pro-Trump voting records. Chuck Clay, a former chair of the Georgia GOP, recounted how a top Republican official recently lamented that the nationalization of races in the state has eclipsedlocal issues as mundane as traffic congestion and zoning fights. Everything is now about Biden and Trump even the county surveyors race. Thats how far down the pike this is going, said Clay, who was once a state Senate GOP leader. I get it. Were in a time of great turmoil. And its hard to get a breath in if youre not focused on the presidential race. It starts at the top. While some Republican U.S. Senate candidates in other states are trying to keep the president at arms length, the opposite has happened in Georgia. That was on vivid display last week, when Trump held a rally in Middle Georgia to energize rural white conservatives. It wouldnt have been too surprising to see U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is locked in a tight race with Democrat Jon Ossoff, try to put some distance between himself and Trump, whose approval ratings in Georgia give Democrats a shot at carrying the state for the first time in 28 years. But unlike Republicans in other tight races, Perdue has leaned into his four-year record of loyal support for the president. He sent a ripple of applause through the crowd of thousands when he said Trump was sent by the heavens. This guy is providential. He didnt happen by accident, Perdue said. How in the world in our political system could Donald J. Trump come on the scene in 2016 and do what he did? Tell me. Gods watching. The language has been even sharper in the GOP feud in the special election for Georgias other Senate race. U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins have scrambled to define themselves as the 100% Trump supporter and tie each other to China, a favorite bogeyman of the president. Thats a far cry from the strategy in 2018, when vulnerable Georgia Republicans emphasized their own Washington voting records rather than tying themselves to Trumps campaign. This cycle, even when local issues arise, they often have a Trumpian tint. Former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, one of Trumps top allies in metro Atlanta, recently aired TV ads for her comeback bid warning that Democrats would take away local zoning decisions in a nod to Trumps dire warning of fallout in the suburbs if he loses. Republican state Rep. Bert Reeves needs no reminder of the presidential influence in down-ballot races and not just because his Cobb County district has become increasingly competitive since Trumps rise. His Democratic opponent, Priscilla Smith, is known for dressing up as Donna J. Trump, complete with bright-orange makeup and a lengthy red tie, and visiting the Capitol to mock the commander-in-chief. On the campaign trail, Reeves said he tries his best not to get bogged down in national politics, instead focusing on the sweeping overhaul of Georgias adoption code that he orchestrated and crackdowns on human trafficking. But candidates are finding it hard to drive local messages in such a divisive atmosphere. Theres no doubt the national elections are impacting the local elections, and its certainly the most frequent conversation I have when interacting with voters in the district, he said. But once I talk to voters about issues Ive worked on," Reeves said, "I am able to connect and move past the national issues. The polarization has intensified with the fade of split-ticket voting. Georgians last split the state ticket in major contests in 1998, when Democrat Roy Barnes and Republican Paul Coverdell won races for governor and the U.S. Senate, respectively. Republicans have steadily consolidated power since. Now, split-ticket voting is largely viewed as a relic of the past. The 2016 presidential race saw the lowest level of mixed balloting in more than a century, said political scientist Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia. And while Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson outperformed Trump in 2016 by about 4 percentage points against a little-known rival, many analysts doubt Perdue will outdo the president by even a quarter of that margin. Thats also shaping the other side of the ticket. Not long ago, statewide Democratic candidates did their best to avoid nationalizing races. Michelle Nunn, Perdues Democratic challenger in 2014, saw fit to avoid a September meeting with then-President Barack Obama when he arrived to give an update on the Ebola crisis. Now, with a surge of new voters on the rolls, Democrats are placing Trump at the center of their election-year attacks. Ossoff has excoriated Perdue for imitating the president when he mocked the pronunciation of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris' name. And Raphael Warnock, the Democratic front-runner in the race for Loefflers seat, has focused his message on how the Senate needs a pastor amid Trumps presidency. Theres no question that the terrible handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy has placed President Trump in a very vulnerable position that will impact races down ballot, Warnock said. But weve got a lot of great candidates that will impact the top. That message might make strategic sense for Democrats on a statewide level, with polls showing a deadlocked race. But it presents challenges for Democrats in more underdog roles. Democrat Angela Mayfield is competing in a Republican-leaning state House district in west Georgia that Trump easily carried in 2016. The dynamics are closer now, but Trump still leads every conversation even though she tries to never bring him up. I assume Im not going to change anyones mind. I have zero ability to influence national politics but I can change Georgia, she said, before describing the uneasy tension in her district. I know which neighbors have Trump signs in their yards, and I still wave at them. And they still wave at me. Theres a polite disregard, she said. It can feel like a standoff and no one knows what will happen next.
High-dose flu vaccine in limited supply in Georgia - Atlanta Journal Constitution
The high-dose flu vaccine is in limited supply in Georgia. It is recommended you call ahead to make sure your doctor, pharmacy or health department has it available. If they don't call around and experts say a standard vaccine is better than no vaccine.
This is absolutely wonderful, he said as he rolled down his car window. Not everyone has been so lucky. Georgia Department of Public Health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam saidsupply is spotty across the state. The North Georgia Health District in Dalton is out and waiting for a shipment this week, she said. Gwinnett and Cobb County health departments both have extremely limited supplies, but are expecting shipments over the coming days Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Health Department, which is running three daily drive-through clinics in the county this flu season, appears well-stocked. Spokesman Eric Nickens said they are not anticipating any shortages and have 1,000 additional doses at a pharmaceutical storage facility. Like other flu vaccines, the high-dose flu vaccine is made up of the three virus strains most likely to be circulating in the coming months. The high-dose vaccines, however, contain four times as much flu virus antigen the part of the vaccine that stimulates the immune system as standard flu vaccines. Thats designed to give older people a higher immune system response against the flu. Older adults tend to have weaker immune systems, which can lead them to be less protected after a regular flu vaccine. Health care providers order vaccines several months in advance, sometimes as early as January. In some cases, demand for vaccines has been greater than health care workers prepared for. Its not just seniors getting their flu vaccines in large numbers this season. CVS said it has already administered 9 million flu vaccines around the country this season equal to the total number the pharmacy chain administered last flu season. Spokesperson Matthew Blanchette said CVS pharmacy has ample supplies of both standard and high-dose vaccines and are prepared to administer 18 million flu vaccines this season. He said if a local store temporarily runs low on its supply due to high demand in the area, it will be replenished as quickly as possible. Nydam said the state typically orders between 400,000 and 500,000 flu vaccines and distributes them to district health departments. DPH ordered about 200,000 more this year in anticipation of higher demand. It still may not be enough. Sanofi Pasteur, a leading influenza vaccine producer, said the company increased production by more than 15% and is supplying approximately 80 million doses of the flu vaccine. This is the most influenza vaccine we have ever produced in the U.S., spokesman Michael Szumera said in an email. He also urged people to call ahead to health care providers. If one location is out, he said, another one nearby might have it. But some health care providers already know they wont have enough to last the season and maybe not even the month of October. Thats because providers place their orders early and are generally unable to order more flu vaccines throughout a season. Dr. Andrew Reisman, a Gainesville doctor and president of the Medical Association of Georgia, said his practice, which includes five doctors, is out of the high-dose vaccine. His practice expects another shipment of about 50 doses during the coming days. And once we get it, it will be gone within hours, he said. And once that shipment is gone, thats it for the season The bottom line: people may have to call around to find it. But experts stress a standard vaccine is still better than no vaccine at all. Currently, flu activity in Georgia is minimal, according to the latest report from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Only 2% of patient visits to doctors were for the flu during the week ending Oct 10. Its possible the U.S. will have a mild flu season. In the Southern Hemisphere,which experts often analyze in order to predict what kind of flu season this country will have, the severity of the season was mitigated by mask use and social distancing because of COVID-19. Meanwhile, back at the North DeKalb flu vaccine drive-through, a steady stream of people showed up to get a flu shot outside. Patti Dawson, of Hapeville, came with her granddaughter, Haley Roth, who is 18. This was the only drive-through one I could find, said Dawson, who is 64 and got the standard flu shot. I always get a flu shot, and I tell everyone I know to get a flu shot. And, this year, its more important than ever.
Georgia submits vaccine distribution plan to CDC - Atlanta Journal Constitution
Georgia submits plan for distributing the eventual COVID-19 vaccine. Many questions remain. Georgia will face complex logistics not to mention that officials don’t know which vaccine they will be distributing or even when — or if — one will be available.
No one knows yet when, or even if, a vaccine will become available. Some experts have estimated that, for the general public, it will be the middle of next year at the earliest. Its possible that a limited number of vaccines may be available by the end of the year for health care workers. The country has never had such an urgent demand to produce so many vaccine doses so quickly. Every year, a flu vaccine is given to well over 100 million Americans. But COVID-19 inoculations will be more complex because of the challenges of storage, delivery and tracking multiple vaccines with different requirements, said Julie Swann, a North Carolina State University professor who in 2009 served as a senior adviser to the CDC on the national distribution for the H1N1 flu vaccine. Two leading vaccine candidates, by Moderna and Pfizer, use a new RNA technology and require ultra-low temperature storage. This will require a supply chain that can keep vaccines in tightly controlled temperatures from the moment they are made, to the moment that they are administered. Pfizer has devised thermal boxes that, unopened, can keep a batch of vaccines frozen for up to 10 days; once opened, though, they have to be replenished with dry ice within 24 hours. Along with temperature-controlled facilities, there also will be a need for monitoring capabilities and trained staff. Because vaccines will be very valuable, security will be needed to prevent tampering and theft. Another challenge: A vaccine will likely require two doses. That means doubling production and persuading people to return for the second shot. If multiple vaccines are available at the same time, health care providers will need to make sure that someone getting the first dose gets a second dose of the same vaccine. The state plan noted many pharmacies and hospitals have systems they use for patient notifications for appointments and for a medication pick up, and that they could use these same systems for second dose reminders to patients. There also are questions about the cost of the vaccine for the public. While the vaccines will arrive at clinics at no charge, the government is notgoing to pay for the vaccines to be administered. To make money, clinics may still charge patients an administrative fee, which will have a limit of $43.86 for a two-dose vaccine. The plan notes that clinics must waive the fee for those who cant afford it, but it doesnt say what that means, or how patients will know to ask for waivers. More than 1 million Georgians live below the poverty level.
As early voting starts Monday, Georgia aims to avoid another meltdown - Atlanta Journal Constitution
Georgia election officials have hired poll workers, improved training and readied for the Nov. 3 general election. Early voting starts Monday, but preparations for the election are unlikely to prevent lines and problems in some polling places.
Over 40,000 potential poll workers expressed interest to the secretary of states office, nonprofit groups and businesses, and their names were forwarded to local election officials to make hiring decisions. But in some counties, staffing remains an issue for both early voting and Election Day. In Gwinnett County, the election office is still short of its targets by hundreds of poll workers. The county would like to have 2,165 staff lined up for Election Day to ensure things go smoothly across its 156 polling locations. As of Oct. 2, it was 750 workers short of that goal. Its minimum staffing target is 1,845 workers, and election officials are hopeful they will reach that by Nov. 3. In Cobb County, an issue is inexperienced staffers. Cobb closed one early voting site, Noonday Baptist Church. Elections Direct Janine Eveler said she didnt have enough poll managers or assistant managers to oversee all the rookie clerks who arent qualified for management roles. Eveler and other election directors are keeping hundreds of new poll workers on standby, ready to deploy to polling places when needed. Their assignments probably wont be decided until the weekend before Election Day, she said. First-time poll workers by nature are inexperienced and some of them wont follow through with the job, Eveler said. Its always two steps forward, one step back, Eveler said. Were getting lots of lists from different groups. Well probably have more applicants than we can use. Most of the polls are filled right now, but its a moving target. ExploreHow to vote by mail in Georgias general election The new voting equipment could be another issue. Problems operating Georgias new voting computers contributed to extreme lines in the June primary. Elections officials have been conducting last-minute training, machine updates and tests in an effort to get ready. Election officials are trying to limit problems by putting technicians in each of the states voting sites. However, many of those technicians are being hired by counties and given only a few hours of training. Other techs are being provided by Georgias voting company, Dominion Voting Services. There are still 500 vacant election tech jobs that need to be filled, Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said. The secretary of states office put several counties on a performance enhancement plan to correct a variety of problems, including late precinct hours, absentee ballot issues, long lines, late equipment delivery and unsecured ballots. While the plan doesnt force counties to make changes, it says Chatham, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties will need to improve training, recruit poll workers and make contingency plans to have a successful election. Were still going to see some troubles with in-person voting, Fuchs said. Theyre going to see some long lines the day of the election. The mantra in our office is the line should continuously move and voting should never stop. An inadequate supply of voting equipment was another problem in some precincts and could be a problem again Nov. 3. Georgias $104 million voting system depends on more than 200,000 components across the state, including check-in tablets, touchscreens and printers that produce a paper ballot that must be inserted into scanners for the vote to count. The state supplied equipment to counties based on their numbers of registered voters, but some polling places lacked all the components needed to accommodate the surge of voters who showed up for the primary. Some counties have purchased additional voting equipment to handle the number of expected voters. But it wont be enough in some precincts, according to an analysis filed in federal court by Muer Yang, an operations and supply chain management professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. Although counties have made efforts to improve the voting equipment allocation for the 2020 presidential election, many polling places are identified to be likely to have long voting lines at some point on Election Day, Yang wrote. Some are due to insufficient Poll Pads, some are BMDs (ballot-marking devices), and some are scanners. In other words, the voting equipment should be sufficient at all three voting stages to prevent long lines. Court papers reveal that voting rights advocates have also raised concerns about whether large counties such as Gwinnett have enough voting machines and check-in tablets to help ensure lines move swiftly for the wave of expected voters. Gwinnett Elections Supervisor Kristi Royston said staffing is a bigger concern than equipment, but she thinks the county will be ready. Im not worried, Royston said. Were trained up and were prepared and were working through any staffing concerns we have. Efforts to protect voters both from the spread of the coronavirus and from security threats also could add to issues at the polls. My concern is that people wont understand that long lines might not be from equipment failures. It will be because of social distancing, DeKalb Elections Director Erica Hamilton said. Poll watching or efforts to intimidate voters also could disrupt voting. Because of such concerns, some local officials are enlisting police to ensure there are no disruptions, a move that could be controversial if voters fear a police presence at the polls. I hate having to do it, but I think this time we will do it to make sure, Atkinson County Elections Supervisor Lorraine M. White said. Another complication for Election Day: new polling locations for some voters. Fulton County added 91 polling places for Nov. 3 after voters waited over three hours to cast ballots in some polling places in the primary. The county will have 255 voting sites in the presidential election. One location, Park Tavern in Piedmont Park, became a national symbol of Georgias election failures after polling places closed because of coronavirus restrictions, resulting in over 16,000 voters being assigned to one polling place. The new polling places mean thousands of voters will have a new location. That could add to confusion, but the county has hired line managers to direct voters to their correct locations or give them provisional ballots. All I want to do is fly under the radar, said Fulton Elections Director Richard Barron, who thinks the changes will make Election Day go smoothly. My main concern is voters knowing where theyre supposed to go on Election Day." The load across the state at in-person voting locations might be eased by so many people casting absentee ballots. Through Wednesday, over 1.5 million people had requested absentee ballots in Georgia. Total turnout is expected to reach 5 million. While some voters havent received their absentee ballots yet, election officials say theyre in the mail and should be delivered soon. Absentee ballots will be counted if theyre received by county election officials by 7 p.m. Nov. 3, according to a court ruling. I dont want to be in a mile-long line, said Charles Hale of Chamblee, pumping his fist after delivering his absentee ballot in a drop box at the DeKalb elections office. There are so many people invested in this election. Early voting has also expanded, with Fulton County voters able to cast their ballots at State Farm Arena, the High Museum and over 30 other locations from Monday to Oct. 29. Other metro Atlanta counties Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett have opened a combined 32 early voting sites. In Cobb and Gwinnett, voters will be able to go online to see wait times at early voting locations, helping them decide when and where to cast their ballots. Early voting starts Monday Three weeks of in-person early voting begin Monday in every county in Georgia. All registered voters can visit an early voting site at their convenience, but they must vote in their home counties. Fulton County voters will be able to use the largest early voting site in Georgia at State Farm Arena, which is equipped with 300 voting touchscreens and 60 check-in stations. The hours of early voting sites vary, so check your countys election website or the My Voter Page at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov. Early voting lasts until Oct. 30, the Friday before Election Day on Nov. 3. ajc.com Visit our website for updates today on in-person early voting For our comprehensive election coverage, visit ajc.com/politics/election
Atlanta wedding hosted by top Trump aide violated city’s curfew - Atlanta Journal Constitution
Just days earlier, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had instituted the curfew to maintain order, and emergency alerts pinged cellphones across the city warning residents to please stay home. That wasnt an option for Michael Ward. He and his brother Ted worked as caterers for the upscale event, which attracted more than 70 guests who gathered not wearing masks or practicing social distancing at the upscale venue. Both said attendees left well after 9 p.m. "It was a situation where I felt like this was the elites who were having their way, Michael Ward said. They do one thing and they tell us to do something else. It was that kind of feeling. They were being a bunch of liars and hypocrites. Ted Ward recalls arriving at the venue early thinking it was a small event and then discovering it was for one of the most powerful men in Washington as protests were raging outside. He called it an elitist insult. It was a very large gathering, and not one person in the entire party had a mask, he said. I felt insulted that I was asked to be wearing a mask and others werent, and they were openly flaunting rules set by the administration. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the wedding makes a mockery of this pandemic, and the people who are getting sick and the people who are dying." Bottoms told CNN that while she understands the need for weddings and other celebrations, she was concerned that nobody apparently wore a mask. It was a complete disregard of what weve asked people to do in our city and in our state at that time, the mayor said. A spokesman for Meadows has declined repeated requests for comment about the wedding on Wednesday and Thursday, aside from saying guests were long gone by time of the curfew. The president of Novare Events, which manages special events at the Biltmore and other venues, said Thursday that the company verified that it would be acting lawfully and in compliance with Kemps order ahead of the event. While we do not comment on clients' events, we can confirm that the entire 16,000 square feet of the space was reserved for this small wedding greatly exceeding the per-person square footage allowed by the order, Myrna Altar said. She did not respond to a request for comment on why the event violated the citys curfew. While legions of police officers and Georgia National Guard troops were stationed at Centennial Olympic Park and the Lenox Square mall with some units firing tear gas to enforce the curfew maskless wedding attendees dined and danced inside the ballroom. Staffers say as the curfew took effect, they handed out dessert morsels on ceramic spoons. The bash ended, according to the itinerary, with a final rendition of Celebration by Kool and the Gang just before 10 p.m. Some staffers, meanwhile, nervously glanced at their smartphones as they fretted about their drives home. We got a text about the curfew while we were at the party, said a third employee, who requested anonymity for fear of losing their job. I got worried: Am I going to be in trouble because I had to blow the curfew because I was working the chief of staffs wedding? After the AJC reported details of the wedding, social media was flooded by residents who shared stories of canceled family events and online-only funerals in compliance with the governments efforts to stem the spread of the lethal disease. Many said they felt betrayed by Meadows. We were so absolutely heartbroken not to celebrate with our friends and family back in the spring, said Casey Baird, who postponed a May 16 wedding in Atlanta and still hasnt set a new date. The audacity and disregard that the Meadows family displayed it just cut us to the core, Baird added. Its been a rough day in this household, but the truth must always come out. Barrett Polan also planned his wedding for Atlanta on Memorial Day weekend. But after the pandemic began, and events across the nation were shut down, he and his fiancee decided to postpone the event. And we just had to be governed by what is the safest thing to do, what is the right thing to do, he said.
U.S. executes Georgia man for 2001 killing of Gilmer County nurse - Atlanta Journal Constitution
William LeCroy, who in 2001 raped and killed North Georgia nurse Joann Lee Tiesler, has become the sixth person executed this year by the U.S. government. LeCroy was put to death by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
After several more minutes, his face turned ashen and his lips tinted blue. After about 10 more minutes, an official with a stethoscope entered the chamber, felt LeCroys wrist for a pulse and then listened to his heart before declaring him dead. Today justice was finally served. William LeCroy died a peaceful death in stark contrast to the horror he imposed on my daughter Joann, the victims father, Tom Tiesler, said in a statement. Charged under the federal carjacking statute, LeCroy was convicted and sentenced to death during a 2004 trial in Gainesville. In a clemency petition to President Donald Trump, LeCroys lawyers said that their client had developed a delusional fixation on Tiesler. (He) broke into her home and killed her to break an evil spell he believed she cast on him, the petition said. In 2010, LeCroys brother, Georgia State Trooper Chad LeCroy, was killed in the line of duty. After fatally shooting the trooper, Gregory Favors took LeCroys patrol car, making him eligible for the same offense as William LeCroy. But Fulton County prosecutors obtained a malice murder indictment against Favors and sought the death penalty. Favors was later allowed to plead guilty in exchange for life in prison without parole. That was the same sentence LeCroy had agreed to accept, but which federal prosecutors rejected. The pain and sorrow felt by the LeCroy family at potentially losing two of their sons is unimaginable, the petition said. It is all the more painful that the system worked so differently and unfairly in their eyes. The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Court blocks release of Trump tax returns amid latest appeal - Atlanta Journal Constitution
A federal appeals court on Tuesday blocked a New York prosecutor from obtaining Donald Trump’s tax returns while his lawyers continue to fight a subpoena seeking the records. The three-judge panel ruled after hearing brief arguments from both sides.
Trumps lawyers appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month after a district court judge rejected their renewed efforts to invalidate a subpoena issued to his accounting firm. Judge John M. Walker Jr. said at Tuesdays hearing that the subpoenas cover 11 entities engaged in business dealings as far away as Europe and Dubai. Trump has blasted the long-running quest for his financial records as a continuation of the most disgusting witch hunt in the history of our country and predicted the case would again end up before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled last month the presidency in itself doesnt shield Trump from Vances investigation, but the high court returned the case to U.S. District Judge Victor Marreros courtroom to allow Trumps lawyers to raise other concerns about the subpoena. Trumps lawyers then argued the subpoena was issued in bad faith and overly broad, might have been politically motivated and amounted to harassment. Marrero rejected those claims. Consovoy told the judges Tuesday the investigation was an arbitrary fishing expedition. Carey Dunne of the district attorneys office said Trump and his lawyers have long misrepresented the scope of the investigation as focusing primarily on hush money payments that were paid to protect Trump from adultery allegations. Vances lawyers have said they are legally entitled to extensive records to aid a complex financial investigation. The president has complained at every turn that weve not announced what the grand jury is looking at as if that itself is bad faith, Dunne said. But, of course, what the grand jury is looking at is secret. Were not allowed to make that public, which is what has led to his speculation about the grand jury scope. But none of this speculation is plausible. Even if Vance gets Trumps tax records, those would be part of a confidential grand jury investigation and not automatically be made public. Vance, a Democrat, began seeking the Republican presidents tax returns from his longtime accounting firm more than a year ago, after Trumps former personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress the president had misled tax officials, insurers and business associates about the value of his assets. Congress is also pursuing Trumps financial records, though the Supreme Court last month kept a hold on the banking and other documents that Congress has been seeking and returned the case to a lower court. Trump is the only modern president who has refused to release his tax returns. Before he was elected, he had promised to do so.
Judge rules Georgia ballots mailed by Election Day must be counted - Atlanta Journal Constitution
A federal judge ruled Monday that Georgia absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day must be counted. The court order extends the state's absentee ballot deadline, which previously required that ballots be received by county election offices before 7 p.m. on…
The secretary of states office plans to immediately appeal the ruling. Extending the absentee ballot receipt deadline is a bad idea that will make it nearly impossible for election officials to complete their required post-election tasks in the timeline that is required by law, Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said. The lawsuit by the New Georgia Project, a voter registration group, asked the court to intervene to prevent voter disenfranchisement during the presidential election. More voters than ever are relying on absentee ballots during the coronavirus pandemic so they can avoid the potential health risk of human contact at polling places. Nearly half of all voters in Georgias June 9 primary used absentee-by-mail ballots. Over 5 million Georgia voters are expected to participate in Novembers election, many of them again likely to vote absentee. Georgia law has allowed any registered voter to request an absentee ballot without having to provide an excuse since 2005. As we take care of each other through a pandemic of historic proportions, we need to make sure that every vote counts, said Nse Ufot, the executive director of the New Georgia Project. This is a commonsense solution to a problem weve been seeing for some time. Its a good day for Georgia and a good day for democracy. Every election, absentee ballots are discarded in Georgia because they arrive too late. Even if ballots were mailed well in advance of Election Day, the U.S. Postal Service didnt always deliver them in time, a problem exacerbated by potential mail slowdowns this year. In this years primary, election officials disqualified at least 8,495 absentee ballots because they were received late, according to state election data. That amounts to less than 1% of all absentee ballots cast. The number of ballots received after Election Day is expected to grow in November. Attorneys for the New Georgia Project argued in court that as many as 60,000 ballots could arrive late in the general election. The Democratic Party of Georgia called the ruling a huge victory for Georgia voters. All Georgians deserve to have their voice heard, and in the midst of a global pandemic, it is the responsibility of our democracy to make voting by mail and early voting options as accessible as possible, Democratic Party of Georgia Chairwoman Nikema Williams said. Attorneys for Georgia had warned that delaying the absentee deadline could result in chaos as election results hang in the balance. Election officials will have to scramble to count ballots quickly and verify that absentee ballots were in fact postmarked by Nov. 3. State law requires election results to be certified 17 days after the election, by Nov. 20. The court notes it is reluctant to interfere with Georgias statutory election machinery. However, where the risk of disenfranchisement is great, as is the case here, narrowly tailored injunctive relief is appropriate, Ross wrote. Ross wrote that Georgia election officials have already shown theyre capable of processing absentee ballots received after Election Day. State law requires election officials to count absentee ballots from overseas and military voters if theyre received within three days of an election. Georgia joins 18 other states that accept absentee ballots after Election Day if theyre postmarked beforehand, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Ross denied other changes sought by the lawsuit, including free ballot postage, quick notification of absentee application deficiencies, automatic mailing of absentee ballots to all voters, and ballot collection by third-party organizations. Election officials are urging Georgians to vote early to avoid lines and other problems. The U.S. Postal Service has said that mail delivery delays could hold up absentee ballots. Voters should mail their completed ballots at least a week in advance of Election Day, by Oct. 27, according to a USPS letter to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Georgia voters can also cast absentee ballots without having to rely on the Postal Service. Many counties have set up drop boxes where voters can deposit their ballots until polls close on Election Day. Voters can request absentee ballots through a website created by Raffenspergers office at ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov. Then absentee ballots will begin to be mailed in late September. How to vote absentee in Georgia Any registered voter in Georgia can request an absentee ballot without having to provide an explanation. Voters can order an absentee ballot online at ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov. They can also fill out and mail a paper absentee ballot request form to county election offices. Election officials will begin mailing absentee ballots to voters around Sept. 18. State law prevents absentee ballots from being mailed before 49 days prior to Election Day. Then voters can mail their absentee ballots or return them in drop boxes set up in many counties.
Jacob Blake is handcuffed to hospital bed after being shot by police, dad says - Atlanta Journal Constitution
The father of a Black man shot in the back by police says his son is handcuffed to a hospital bed as he recovers.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers made a comment on Blakes report about his son being handcuffed to the hospital bed, admitting he was concerned about that. I would have no personal understanding why that would be necessary, the governor said. I cant imagine why thats happening, and I would hope that we would be able to find a ... better way to have him get better and recover. Blake, whose children were in the car during the shooting, is paralyzed from the waist down. His shooting, which many consider yet another example of police brutality, has sparked another round of searing protests in Wisconsin and beyond. Protests quelled later in the week after a 17-year-old was arrested for shooting two protesters and injuring another one. Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley filed the charges against Kyle Rittenhouse on Thursday afternoon. The charges include one count of first-degree intentional homicide; one count of first-degree reckless homicide; one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide; and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment. All those charges are felonies. Blakes lawyers are working to ensure that Blake returns home after his hospitalization, his father said Thursday.
Cherokee closes 3rd high school as 500 students quarantined for COVID - Atlanta Journal Constitution
A third Cherokee County high school announced plans to temporarily end in-person learning after 500 students quarantined and 25 tested positive for COVID-19.
Creekview students who had previously enrolled in online-only learning wont be impacted by the closure, Jacoby said. Sundays announcement came about two weeks after Cherokee schools resumed classes for more than 31,000 students whose families opted for in-person learning. It came on the heels of two other Cherokee County high schools, Woodstock and Etowah, announcing they would transition to online-only classes through the end of August after hundreds of students were quarantined. ExploreCherokee closes high school after district reports 900 in quarantine Etowah made national headlines when a photograph of dozens of maskless students huddled together went viral. The school district is requiring teachers to wear masks. Students can decide for themselves but are strongly recommended and encouraged to do so, Jacoby previously told the AJC. As we have said since we announced our reopening, we will not hesitate to quarantine students and close classrooms in an effort to continue operating school in-person for as long as possible, she said Sunday. See the full list of school-by-school cases and quarantine count here. ExploreWoodstock High School becomes second in Cherokee County to close due to coronavirus cases