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Wisconsin National Guard to assist polling places next week

Voters in Wisconsin will not have to wear face masks to the polls this fall. 

(The Center Square) – Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday mobilized the National Guard to help local election clerks in next Tuesday’s primary.

“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,” the governor said. 

There is no word just how many soldiers will be sent out. 

The Wisconsin Election Commission earlier this week said local clerks are at least 900 workers short. The commission polled Wisconsin’s 1,850 election managers late month. 

As was the case back in April, guard troops will serve in their own communities, and will wear civilian clothes. 

Wisconsin National Guard Commanders say all troops serving as poll workers will be trained before they are sent out. 

“We’re working in close collaboration and partnership with the Wisconsin Elections Commission to anticipate needs in each county,” Brig. Gen. Robyn Blader said. “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.”

Blader is the Guard’s liaison with the Wisconsin Elections Commission. 

Wisconsin’s National Guard has played a key role in Wisconsin’s last two elections. Back in April, more than 2,400 Wisconsin Guard members were mobilized in the same role and supported 71 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. In May’s special election in the state’s 7th Congressional District, another 160 troops served as poll workers.

This mission for next week’s primary is seen as a tune-up for what could be a much larger deployment in November. 

Blader says the mission to the polls comes at the same time that 1,000 guardsmen are assisting with coronavirus testing and tracing. Commanders say no troops will be taken from the coronavirus effort to help with the election.

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