Tags: 2020 Elections | Voting Rights | wisconsin | kentucky | tennessee | national guard | poll workers

Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee Call National Guard to Polls

a polling place sign outside a polling place
(Carlos Osorio/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 29 October 2020 03:28 PM

Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Tennessee have called upon the National Guard to assist on Election Day, ranging in duties from filling in for coronavirus staffing shortages and setting up on managing polling sites.

"What's unique about this mission for the Guard is it allows our guardsmen to serve in the communities that they live in," Army Brig. Gen. Robyn Blader of the Wisconsin National Guard told Stars and Stripes. "It's neighbors helping neighbors."

The numbers are not on the level of the 1,000 planned for Texas, and neither are they intended to protect against massive "post-election" unrest.

About 30 Tennessee National Guard troops will assist by opening 13 facilities in rural areas to serve as polling locations, Army Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes told Stars and Stripes.

No more than 400 Wisconsin National Guard troops will be needed to plug any shortages at polls on Election Day as coronavirus cases surge, the state's top elections official said Thursday.

There is currently a shortage of about 200 poll workers out of the roughly 30,000 who will be staffing the polls on Tuesday, said Wisconsin Elections Commission leader Meagan Wolfe. She said that small of a gap was "fantastic news" and reflects hard work by local officials to solicit volunteers and backups.

"We don't have these reports of large, known shortages right now," Wolfe said.

Wolfe said she also has not heard any reports of any local election leaders becoming sick with COVID-19 and being unable to staff the polls on Election Day.

Guard troops will be kept on reserve and called upon to fill shortages as needed, she said. They will work in their local communities and not be in uniform, she said.

The number of Guard troops who may be used in Tuesday's election is far less than other elections in Wisconsin earlier this year. About 2,500 troops were called up for the April presidential primary, 1,000 for the special election in northern Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District in May and 1,000 in the statewide August primary.

The Kentucky National Guard is preparing to assist local officials at polling locations in 38 counties on Election Day.

About 280 guardsmen will provide logistical and administrative support next Tuesday, Guard officials said. They are stepping in because many poll workers and volunteers are typically in a high-risk category for contracting COVID-19.

The guardsmen will perform non-election officer duties that include setting up and cleaning polling locations and assisting with traffic, parking and crowd control, officials said.

The guardsmen will not wear military attire, and their support will be in a non-law-enforcement capacity under the direction of election officers. They will not perform any duties reserved for trained election officials.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Tennessee have called upon the National Guard to assist on Election Day, ranging in duties from filling in for coronavirus staffing shortages and setting up on managing polling sites.
wisconsin, kentucky, tennessee, national guard, poll workers, election day
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2020-28-29
Thursday, 29 October 2020 03:28 PM
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