This year has brought a barrage of emergencies across the country that have required the National Guard — the coronavirus pandemic , hurricanes , wildfires and a wave of street protests.
Now those troops are preparing in case they are needed once again , this time for potential violent unrest in the wake of the election .
Communities are bracing for protest regardless of the election ’ s outcome .
If demonstrations turn violent and overwhelm local police , governors will almost certainly call out their states ’ National Guard .
Under federal law, it is the Guard , not active – duty military , that can enforce order on domestic soil .
It has already happened dozens of times this year in cities across the country . States are already on alert for violence.
On Monday , Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts ordered 1 , 000 members of the National Guard to be on standby in case of turmoil following Tuesday’ s election .
And in Oregon, Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency for the Portland area , citing concern for potential violence surrounding the election .
Under the plans, the Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County sheriff will take over management of public safety in the city , and Brown said she has directed the National Guard to have members trained in crowd control to be on standby .
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“ We know that there are some people who might use peaceful election night protests to promote violence and property destruction, ” Brown said Monday . “That behaviour is not acceptable . ”
Hundreds of National Guard troops already have been called up in non – law enforcement roles , to assist states where the ranks of poll workers have been depleted by the coronavirus pandemic .
Those troops are doing cybersecurity and routine election tasks like opening mail – in ballots.
As of last week , 10 states had activated the National Guard to help with election tasks, and 14 more are expected to activate troops this week .
New Jersey and Wisconsin have both called up hundreds of citizen soldiers and airmen to work the elections.
In both states , the troops helping out are wearing civilian clothes so that voters won ’ t be alarmed by seeing camouflage uniforms at the polls .
“It creates a sense of normalcy , ” said Maj . Joe Trovato , a spokesman for the Wisconsin National Guard .
“ We’ re not trying to alarm anyone ; we are just trying to support the election . ”
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