Brief

Wisconsin National Guard mobilized again to help with Aug. 11 election

By: - August 5, 2020 5:21 pm
National Guard poll worker

Sgt. Monica Miggins, a Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldier with the 1158th Transportation Company out of Beloit, Wis., sanitizes voters’ hands before entering a polling place in Fitchburg on April 7, 2020. Army and Air National Guard members will support the Wisconsin Elections Commission again during the August 11 statewide primary elections. (Wisconsin National Guard Photo by Spc. Emma Anderson)

With the state in search of as many as 900 poll workers, Wisconsin National Guard members will be deployed to assist with the partisan primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 11, Gov. Tony Evers announced Wednesday.

The number of Guard members to be deployed to support the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) hasn’t been determined.

The mobilization will begin Sunday, when Guard members will report for training and to receive assignments. They’ll be sent to work with municipal election clerks around the state starting Monday and serve as poll workers during Tuesday’s election.

Guard members will work in the counties where they live and will be in civilian clothes.

The announcement came a day after the elections commission reported the state will be short at least 900 volunteer poll workers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On a typical election day about 25,000 to 30,000 people volunteer statewide to work the polls, according to the WEC. Many are in their 60s, 70s and 80s, and because of concern for their health if exposed to the COVID-19 virus have stepped back from participating, according to WEC’s chief elections official, Meagan Wolfe.

Guard members have provided election assistance twice already this year as a result of the pandemic: during the April 7 nonpartisan general election and the May 12 special election for Wisconsin’s 7th congressional district.

This week, the federal government authorized the Guard to continue special duty related to the pandemic through the end of this year, but reduced federal funding to the state for those services. At a media briefing Tuesday, Evers estimated that the state will have to spend an additional $4 million to make up the difference.

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Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Senior Reporter Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, health policy and related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.

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