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National Guard’s role in elections ‘to be determined’

Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 27, 2020

By M.D. Kittle 

MADISON — Will the National Guard assist at the polls for Wisconsin’s presidential election? 

TBD. 

While Gov. Tony Evers earlier this month told reporters he would deploy the National Guard to assist communities that have struggled to find poll workers, a Guard spokesman told Empower Wisconsin on Monday, “As of right now our role is to be determined.” 

“However, we stand ready to assist as we have in the last three elections in Wisconsin, with poll workers providing that support, if needed,” said Major Joe Trovato, deputy director of Public Affairs for the Wisconsin National Guard. 

Evers’ spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff would not deign to answer Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment about whether the governor plans to deploy the Guard. 

The Democrat did tell reporters two weeks ago, “The National Guard will be there to make sure we have enough people working at the polls.” 

Evers has had some difficulties in calling up the Guard in a year of COVID-19 and violent protest. The Democrat was criticized for not calling up enough members to assist at the polls in Wisconsin’s April election, and he was roundly criticized for his delay in deploying enough citizen soldiers to help local law enforcement amid the riots in Madison and Kenosha. 

While there was concern about a shortage of election workers earlier this month, Wisconsin Elections Commission Member Robert Spindell says the situation has improved. 

“It appears there will be more than enough help just about everywhere,” Spindell said, adding that no one wants a repeat of the April election when Milwaukee, for reasons that still aren’t entirely clear, reduced their voting sites from 180 to just five. Empower Wisconsin has yet to receive documents from the Milwaukee Election Commission involving the debacle more than six months after we filed an open records request. 

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