Ahead of election, governors prepare to deploy troops to cities

A spokesperson for the National Guard said the troops would not be stationed at polling places

By Shawn Mulcahy
November 2, 2020 11:38AM (UTC)
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Members of the National Guard talk to out of state drivers at a checkpoint set up to hand out information to those coming in from out of state about self-quarantining for 14 days to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus on March 30, 2020 in Hope Valley, RI. Out of state drivers were directed to pull over on I-95 into a rest area between Exits 2 and 3 to speak to the National Guard. (Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on The Texas Tribune.

The Texas Army National Guard said Monday that up to 1,000 troops could be dispatched to cities across Texas ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Brandon Jones, a spokesperson for the Guard, said the deployment is not related to the election and troops would not be stationed at polling places. He said it was a continuation of peacekeeping efforts that began during anti-police brutality protests this summer.

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"The Texas Military Department was activated to provide additional support to the Department of Public Safety in the summer of 2020," Maj. Gen. Tracy R. Norris, the adjutant general of Texas, said in a statement. "Texas Service Members continue to support [the Texas Department of Public Safety] in this capacity, guarding historical landmarks such as the Alamo and the State Capitol."

Troops could be sent to five major cities: Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, according to the San Antonio Express-News, which first reported the move. The newspaper reported that Guard members could arrive as soon as this weekend.

Gov. Greg Abbott previously activated the National Guard in late May following a series of demonstrations that erupted across Texas in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

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During a burial service for Floyd this summer near Houston, police asked other agencies for assistance in what they thought might be a massive gathering with protesters and counter-protesters. U.S. Customs and Border Protection planned a massive presence, including 66 paramilitary agents from CBP's Border Patrol Tactical Unit.

Abbott's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has not been contacted by either Abbott or the Guard about the deployment, spokesperson Mary Benton told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday.

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In Dallas, Mayor Eric Johnson also was not aware of the potential deployment to his city, according to spokesperson Tristan Hallman.

Law enforcement agencies across the state have been preparing for protests or other unrest on election night. Police departments in Austin, El Paso, San Antonio and Fort Worth previously said officers were planning for demonstrations.

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Separately, the FBI's field office in Dallas warned that far-right extremists could pose a violent threat in North Texas around the election.

And federal agents within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been put on standby in the runup to the election, CNN reported on Monday. Customs and Border Protection has been regularly training personnel for unrest.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. 


Shawn Mulcahy

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2020 Election Politics Texas National Guard The Texas Tribune Voting