The Texas Army National Guard announced that it would send up to 1,000 troops to five cities across the state to support local officials ahead of Election Day, which is next Tuesday, but one official said they’re not being sent to polling places.
Retired Maj. Gen. James K. “Red” Brown, chief of staff to the Texas Army Guard’s commander, told the San Antonio Express-News that the activation of the Texas Guard was for “postelection” support for local law enforcement “as we did previously to deter any civil disturbance at sites in various cities within Texas.” The Guard could be deployed as early as this weekend.
Texas Guard spokesman Brandon Jones said troops could be deployed to Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin. He didn’t know how many troops would be sent to those areas, but he added that the Guard will also be stationed at the Alamo and the Texas Capitol as well as other areas.
“Right now we could go to 1,000 troops in support of civil disturbance operations,” Jones said, according to the paper. “We’re going to guard buildings just like we did during the George Floyd protests earlier this year. We are not going anywhere near polling locations. That has not been requested.”
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat, released a statement reassuring voters that they should feel confident at polling places in the city.
“We’re not hearing any real indications to anticipate any disruptions or intimidation,” said Adler.
Riots, protests, and other unrest earlier this year following Floyd’s death in Minneapolis caused a significant amount of damage over the summer in areas like Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Kenosha, New York City, and other cities. The National Guard was deployed in several municipalities as a result. Violent protests occurred on Monday night in Philadelphia after a knife-wielding man was shot by police, leading to 30 officer injuries.
Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris noted to the Austin American-Statesman that troops won’t be sent to polling areas in Texas.
“The Texas National Guard continues to support DPS guarding historical landmarks such as the Alamo and the State Capitol,” said Norris in a statement Monday to the paper. “To be clear, there has been no request nor plan to provide any type of support at any polling location in Texas.”
Norris, however, said that there is a contingency plan if there are problems with polling in Texas.
Jones also said that the plans “could change,” meaning the National Guard could be sent to polling places. “We have not been asked to go to any polling locations yet,” he said.
In May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, sent 1,000 guardsmen to assist the Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and law enforcement during the George Floyd riots.
Abbott’s office hasn’t returned a request for comment.