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NEWS | Aug. 12, 2020

Wisconsin National Guard supports election across state

By Vaughn R. Larson Department of Military Affairs

MADISON, Wis. – Almost 700 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen served as polling station volunteers in 40 counties across Wisconsin during the Aug. 11 primary election.

Due to a lack of poll workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the third time this year the Wisconsin National Guard has provided such support.

“I could not be prouder of our service members who coordinate and plan these election call-ups on short notice, as we have to ensure the county clerks have exhausted their recruiting efforts and have a critical need,” said Brig. Gen. Robyn Blader, the assistant adjutant general for readiness and training and the Guard’s liaison with the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Guard members reported for state active duty Aug. 9 and received general training, then more site-specific training from local clerks.

Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order July 30 authorizing the Wisconsin National Guard to support the Aug. 11 primary, in addition to its ongoing role operating COVID-19 testing sites across Wisconsin. Almost 1,100 Wisconsin National Guard members are serving in direct support of the state’s COVID-19 response.

Blader said the Guard mission was similar to past elections – obtaining and delivering supplies such as hand sanitizer, spray bottles, pens, masks and paper towels in partnership with the Civil Air Patrol. Soldiers and Airmen, in civilian clothing, helped set up polling stations and performed poll worker duties during the primary election.

“The biggest lesson we have learned is that we have to procure supplies as soon as possible, as supply channels are strained,” Blader said.

The Guard identified which county members resided in, as volunteers are required to live in the counties where they serve as poll workers.

Blader said the Wisconsin National Guard has not been asked yet to provide polling support for the Nov. 3 general election but has been asked to help obtain and deliver supplies.

“Time and again the Guard has stepped up to help their neighbors, friends and communities,” Evers said Aug. 5, “helping to ensure that every Wisconsinite can vote safely without fear for their health.”



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