Monday, May 25th

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Election officials are making major changes to the state's absentee voting system after ballots failed to reach thousands of citizens in Wisconsin's spring election, throwing an already chaotic election into further disarray amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is what the proposed changes will mean for Wisconsin voters. 

What's being changed? 

The biggest change is that voters will be able to track precisely where their ballots are in the mail system. 

Currently, the state-run election website MyVote shows voters the date their ballot was "sent." That date actually reflects when the mailing label was generated, not the date a ballot was mailed. Milwaukee election officials said it sometimes took clerks another three to seven days to assemble and mail ballots due to severe backlogs.

In addition, officials have documented numerous mailing issues around the state, with absentee ballots being returned as undeliverable or turning up in mail processing centers after the election. 

To solve this issue, Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesperson Reid Magney says officials will implement a new tracking system with the U.S.

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Bartender Carrie Boyle wipes down the bar at A.J. O'Brady's Irish Pub & Grill in Menomonee Falls on Thursday. Patrons were spaced 6 feet apart at the bar and surfaces were cleaned after every patron. In addition, the bar is taking reservations for a limited number of tables available.(Photo: Rick Wood / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Milwaukee and other area municipalities announced a flurry of openings Friday, just as Memorial Day weekend arrived.

Among the announcements Friday was everything from Milwaukee churches reopening to state parks resuming normal business hours. Here's a list of everything open during the long weekend:

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin are providing this story for free. For more coronavirus coverage, sign up for our daily newsletter. To support local journalism, consider subscribing to one of our publications.

Live Updates: The latest on coronavirus in Wisconsin

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A middle school student who helped a friend draw a picture of a cartoon bomb should not have been convicted of making a terrorist threat, an appeals court judge has ruled.

The boy, identified in court records only as A.N.G., was found delinquent on two counts in Waupaca County — disorderly conduct and making a terrorist threat, a felony — as a party to a crime.

This week, Court of Appeals Judge Brian Blanchard ordered both adjudications vacated and the delinquency petition dismissed. 

The boy's "private drawing was not a true threat in the constitutional sense," Blanchard found, but rather the kind of expression protected by the First Amendment.

"First Amendment protection is so strong that it applies no matter how 'offensive' or 'distasteful' a threatening type of communication might be, so long as it is not a true threat," he wrote.

According to the decision:

During a summer school class in 2018, A.N.G.

Updates on the coronavirus and how it's affecting life in Wisconsin from reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

Blog recap:Coronavirus updates, May 8-11

Daily Digest: What you need to know about coronavirus in Wisconsin

More Coverage: Coronavirus in the U.S. and around the world

11:55 a.m.: Milwaukee County playgrounds, dog parks reopen

Milwaukee County announced it is reopening its playgrounds, outdoor fitness areas, dog parks, disc golf courses and basketball and tennis courts, effective immediately.

Jen Francis, the county’s interim parks department executive director, announced the changes Friday as the Memorial Day weekend approaches. She and other officials cautioned people about remaining six feet apart from each other, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer.

“Our human instincts are to be out and be with people,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “No problem with people being out, but if you’re interacting with other people, please, please wear those face masks.”

Updates on the coronavirus and how it's affecting life in Wisconsin from reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

Blog recap:Coronavirus updates, May 8-11

Daily Digest: What you need to know about coronavirus in Wisconsin

More Coverage: Coronavirus in the U.S. and around the world

5:31 p.m.: Milwaukee issues updated order, allows all businesses to reopen in some fashion

The city of Milwaukee issued an updated stay-at-home order Thursday afternoon, which allows all businesses including gyms to reopen in some fashion, but still bans in-person dining at restaurants and bars.

Gyms must limit their capacity to 10 people and take additional precautions, including distancing and enhanced cleaning, Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said Thursday during a news briefing.

Kowalik also said for retail stores, the limit will be based on square footage. The capacity will be 25% or one person for every 30 square feet.

Business owners should know their capacity and update their signs with that information, she said.