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Texas Army National Guard says it has no plans to dispatch troops to polls

Texas Army National Guard soldiers guard the Capitol on Tuesday June 2, 2020. [JAY JANNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN/TNS]

The adjutant general of the Texas Army National Guard said there are no plans to dispatch troops to polling locations in Texas, after a news report Monday that said the guard would deploy up to 1,000 troops to five cities, including Austin, in conjunction with the Nov. 3 election.

“The Texas National Guard continues to support DPS guarding historical landmarks such as the Alamo and the State Capitol,” Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris said in a statement Monday evening. “To be clear, there has been no request nor plan to provide any type of support at any polling location in Texas.”

A spokesman for Gov. Greg Abbott referred questions to the National Guard.

Norris’ statement came after a San Antonio Express-News story was published reporting that the Texas National Guard would dispatch troops to Austin, Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth and San Antonio as soon as this weekend.

Maj. Gen. James K. “Red” Brown, chief of staff for the guard’s commander, told the Express-News that the activation of troops would be for “post election” support.

Protecting polling stations “has not been on any mission request or in any conversation with the governor’s office,” he told the newspaper.

Texas Guard spokesman Brandon Jones told the Express-News that troops could be deployed to the same state sites, including the Texas Capitol, where they were sent over the summer during national protests over police brutality.

“We have not been asked to go to any polling locations as of yet. Now that could change, leading up to the election or after the election,” Jones said.

Norris was asked to draft contingency plans in case of trouble at polling places in major cities around the state, the Express-News also reported.

In May, Abbott deployed more than 1,000 Texas Army National Guard troops to assist Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and local law enforcement officers amid protests over the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Dozens of guardsmen were deployed to the Texas Capitol in Austin during the protests.


(c) 2020 Austin American-Statesman

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