Wisconsin governor deploys National Guard to help at polls

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s governor said Wednesday he will use National Guard soldiers to staff undermanned polling sites in next week’s presidential primary.

Local election clerks across the state say poll workers are quitting in droves out of fears of contracting the coronavirus during Tuesday’s election, which also features a state Supreme Court race and hundreds of local races. More than 100 municipalities have reported they lack enough people to staff even one polling site.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers told a federal judge in a filing that he will use members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard to help as poll workers but that even that move likely won’t fill all staffing needs. The court filing said the Guard was determining how many soldiers it can make available in each county.

The brief did not elaborate, and Guard spokesman Joe Trovato did not immediately respond to a message seeking more details.

Evers submitted the brief Tuesday as U.S. District Judge William Conley considered three lawsuits seeking to postpone the election. Conley was scheduled to hear testimony Wednesday afternoon.

Wisconsin residents are under a stay-at-home order from Evers that prohibits nonessential activities to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Democratic National Committee, the state Democratic Party and other liberal-leaning groups argue in lawsuits filed last month that in-person voting should be postponed until after that order expires on April 24.

Both Evers and Republican legislative leaders have wanted to keep the Tuesday date. Evers says postponement could leave countless local offices vacant. But the two sides have sparred over how to conduct the election, including whether to relax photo ID requirements to make the absentee voting process easier.


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