MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – The Wisconsin National Guard has been mobilized by Governor Tony Evers to support the August primary elections across the state.
In late July, Gov. Evers issued an executive order authorizing the National Guard to provide support during the election.
“The Wisconsin National Guard has played a critical role in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and this mission is no different,” said Gov. Evers. “Time and time again the Guard has stepped up to help their neighbors, friends, and communities, as they will be doing on election day by helping to ensure that every Wisconsinite can vote safely without fear for their health.”
A yet-to-be-determined number of National Guard members will mobilize to state active duty in the coming days to support the Wisconsin Elections Commission and clerks across the state. The Guard is currently working with the WEC to determine how many guard members would be available to support and fulfill requests from local election officials.
Gov. Evers says the civilian soldiers will report to duty on Sunday to complete training and begin receiving assignments. On Monday, they’ll report to clerks to receive more specific training and assist with polling place setup before fulfilling the role of a poll worker. On August 12, the civilian soldiers will be released from duty.
“We’re working in close collaboration and partnership with the Wisconsin Elections Commission to anticipate needs in each county,” said Brig. Gen. Robyn Blader, Wisconsin’s assistant adjutant for readiness and training and the Guard’s liaison with the Wisconsin Elections Commission. “This is truly neighbors helping neighbors, because these Guard members will be serving in their own home communities across the state. As Citizen Soldiers and Airmen, we’re honored to fulfill this role and to help our state during a time of need.”
The National Guard also worked in collaboration with the Civil Air Patrol and the WEC in recent weeks to ship supplies of hand sanitizer, wipes, spray bottles, and personal protective equipment to each county to help ensure safe and sanitary polling sites.
The National Guard assisted in Wisconsin’s last two elections. During the state’s general election April 7, more than 2,400 Wisconsin Guard members mobilized in the same role and supported 71 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. During the May 11 special election in the state’s 7th Congressional District, another 160 served as poll workers.
The mobilizations to support the August election have come amid the largest sustained mobilization for domestic support in the state’s history. More than 1,000 National Guard Citizen Soldiers and Airmen continue to support the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wisconsin Guard simultaneously mobilized troops to assist civil authorities in preserving public safety amidst civil unrest in both May and June across several Wisconsin cities.
No Guard personnel supporting the COVID-19 pandemic response will be diverted to support the polling site support mission.
Hundreds of National Guard troops simultaneously remain deployed across the globe to places like Afghanistan, the Middle East, and the Horn of Africa in support of the Guard’s federal mission as the primary combat reserve of the Army and Air Force.
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