MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced today that the Wisconsin National Guard will assist local election officials as poll workers for the November 3 election across Wisconsin.
“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. “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.”
Approximately 400 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard will mobilize to state active duty in the coming days to support the Wisconsin Elections Commission and clerks across the state. The Guard continues to work closely with the Wisconsin Elections Commission to support and fulfill requests from local elections officials as needed.
The troops will report to duty on Sunday to complete necessary training and begin receiving assignments. 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.
Members of the Wisconsin National Guard reside in all 72 Wisconsin counties and will serve in the county in which they reside. Guard members at the polls will be wearing civilian clothes and perform the same roles and functions as other volunteers who traditionally staff the state’s polling sites. The state called on the Guard to assist at the polls due to a critical shortage of poll workers in the state stemming from concerns over COVID-19.
Mobilized Guard members will complete several hours of training provided by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
“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, Wisconsin’s assistant adjutant for readiness and training and the Guard’s liaison with the Wisconsin Elections Commission. “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 Wisconsin National Guard also worked in collaboration with the Civil Air Patrol and the Wisconsin Elections Commission 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 Wisconsin National Guard has played a key role in Wisconsin’s last three 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, and during the August 12 state primary, nearly 700 Guard members fulfilled the same role.
The mobilizations to support the Wisconsin Elections Commission have come amidst the largest sustained mobilization for domestic support in the state’s history. More than 700 Wisconsin 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 May, June, August, and October across several Wisconsin cities.
No Guard personnel supporting the COVID-19 pandemic response will be diverted to support the polling site support mission.
Simultaneously, several Wisconsin National Guard units remain deployed across the globe to places like 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.
The Wisconsin National Guard consists of nearly 10,000 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen in total.