Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday signed an executive order to activate up to 1,000 members of the Massachusetts National Guard ahead of Election Day “to maintain public safety following Tuesday’s election.”
Baker’s office said in an announcement that similar orders have been issued in recent months to “maintain public safety or protect opportunities to exercise first amendment rights during large scale events,” but they have not required any National Guard members.
“The goal here is to basically be supportive of local communities,” Baker said at a press conference on Monday, reported CBS Boston. “We’ve heard from a number of our colleagues in local government who asked us to make the guard available, if need be, later in the week.”
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Secretary Thomas Turco said in a statement that there was “no indication of any public safety risk in Massachusetts.” However, he added that the office will be ready to ensure that “public safety personnel can be responsive to situations such as large scale demonstrations.”
“Just as the administration does for all major events, we have made additional resources available should local leaders request them,” Turco said.
Massachusetts State Police Colonel Christopher Mason also noted that “At this time we are aware of no specific or credible threats to election sites in Massachusetts.”
“We continue to monitor all available intelligence and will maintain an enhanced operational posture for Election Day and beyond, and will be prepared to assist in any situations that arise in order to protect public safety and the rights of all our citizens,” he said in a statement.
Mason said that Massachusetts State police will have increased staffing on and after Election Day to make ensure safety on state roadways and property. They will also be ready to help local police departments that ask for assistance.
The State Police Watch Center and Division of Homeland Security and Preparedness said it will also be monitoring the situation in the state to be extra-prepared.
Baker’s executive order comes as officials seek to oversee the security of polling locations across the state. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said during a press conference on Monday that an officer is positioned to guard each polling place to prevent interference to voters, reported MassLive.com. Galvin also said that state law forbids people from engaging in political activity within 150 feet of a given polling location.
“All in all, I think you can expect an orderly day,” he said.
A growing number of U.S. states and cities are bracing for potential riots and civil unrest after Election Day, amid warnings that existing social tensions could be stoked by threat actors looking to destabilize the United States.
More than 3,600 members of the National Guard have been made available across at least 17 states as of late Monday, reported the Military Times. The states are Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, with some of these states not having yet declared how many troops will be activated.
Federal authorities and state officials across the country caution that Nov. 3 and the days that follow could be marred by violence, widespread property damage, isolated violent incidents, and a long stretch of mass protests.
Law enforcement agencies from states including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, Washington, and California have said they are preparing for potential unrest given existing social tensions.
Isabel van Brugen contributed to this report.