Wisconsin Deploys National Guard Members to Polls: Governor

October 30, 2020 Updated: October 30, 2020

About 400 National Guard members were deployed in Wisconsin to deal with any possible manpower shortages at polls ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3, said Gov. Tony Evers.

“The Wisconsin National Guard has played a critical role in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and this mission is no different,” Evers, a Democrat, said in a news release. “As Wisconsin faces an urgent crisis with more than 200,000 positive cases of COVID-19 across the state, the help of the Guard will be needed to ensure that Election Day goes smoothly and that voters and election officials alike have the assistance they need.”

Evers confirmed the number of Guard members being deployed separately to The Associated Press.

According to the AP, around 2,400 and 700 National Guard members were deployed in Wisconsin’s elections in April and August, respectively.

Wisconsin Elections Commission leader Meagan Wolfe told the news agency that the state is down about 200 poll workers for Tuesday’s election. Wolfe said that Guard members will not be in uniform. But she stipulated: “We don’t have these reports of large, known shortages right now.”

Evers said he might deploy the Guard in remarks earlier this month.

“The troops will report to duty on Sunday to complete necessary training and begin receiving assignments,” said Evers’ office in the release, elaborating on the role the Guard will play. “They’ll report to clerks on Monday to receive site-specific training and assist with polling place setup, before fulfilling the role of traditional poll workers on Tuesday during the election. The troops will be released from duty Wednesday, November 4.”

The Guard members will have to undergo training first, said officials. And no members who are currently assisting in the CCP virus pandemic response will be diverted to the polls, they added.

“We’ve worked in close partnership with the Wisconsin Elections Commission and other partners statewide since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” said Brig. Gen. Robyn Blader, a spokesman for the National Guard. “Our Citizen Soldiers and Airmen live and work in these same communities across Wisconsin, so this is truly neighbors helping neighbors, because these Guard members are assisting the state and their own local communities during a time of need.”

The move comes as several states and cities—and even Walmart—brace for the possibility of civil unrest and protests following the Nov. 3 election. Law enforcement agencies from states like New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, California, and Illinois have said they are preparing for potential unrest, following months of riots that were triggered by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.