Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers is calling in the National Guard to serve as poll workers during the state primary in August. Wednesday's announcement comes on the heels of the governor's executive order issued in late July that allows guardsmen to serve as personnel in the upcoming primary. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the activation of the state's National Guard comes amid a shortage of some 900 poll workers needed for next week's election.
According to the Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin election officials pleaded with the public to sign up as poll workers since many long-time poll workers have decided to stay home over concerns about the Wuhan coronavirus. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said that more than 40 of the 72 counties in the state have reported a shortage in poll workers.
"The Wisconsin National Guard has played a critical role in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and this mission is no different. 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," Gov. Evers said in a statement.
This will be the third time that Guard members have served as poll workers, having provided support during the general election in April and again for the special election in May. Gov. Evers attempted to change the April election to be conducted entirely by mail, but the governor met resistance from the Republican-led legislature and the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Around 750,000 people were involved in in-person voting during the April election, and, at most, 52 people may have contracted the virus at the polls. There were no deaths.
Gov. Evers also activated the Guard back in June after so-called peaceful rioters engaged in a night of violence, that included activities like toppling statues, breaking windows, attacking a state senator, and throwing a Molotov cocktail into a government building.