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Military & Veterans' Issues

The National Guard May Come To Some Texas Cities Ahead Of Election Day

guard at capitol.jpg
U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Giles, 35th Infantry Division Public Affairs
Army National Guard Soldiers with Joint Task Force 176's Task Force Capitol support law enforcement in during protests at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, June 19, 2020. On May 30, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott activated elements of the Texas Military Department to ensure safety for Texans during the protests that followed the death of George Floyd.

This post has been updated to reflect new information regarding the National Guard's deployment to Texas cities.

Gov. Greg Abbott has agreed to drop San Antonio from his planned pre-election deployment. A spokesman for Mayor Ron Nirenberg first shared that information with the Express-News on Tuesday.

"When it was reported about all the metros receiving Guard post-election, it took us all by surprise," said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg at a Wednesday press conference. He added that the governor’s office had contacted the city and reversed course.

"They reached us and told us no plans. So we’ll take them for their word… It doesn’t appear that they’re needed."

It's unclear whether the change of plans will also affect Houston, Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, the other Texas cities where guard officials said they had been directed to send troops.

Abbott has not publicly shared the rationale behind his decision and his press office hasn’t responded to requests for comment.

The Texas Army National Guard said Monday it had been ordered to send 1,000 troops to cities around the state ahead of Election Day.

The San Antonio Express-News reported that troops could be sent to Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio as early as this weekend. The troop activation would be for “post-election support” of local law enforcement, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Guard’s mission is to help mitigate civil disturbances at sites throughout Texas.

Brandon Jones of the Texas Military Department released the following statement to Texas Public Radio:

“The Texas Military Department was activated to provide additional support to the Department of Public Safety in the summer of 2020,” said Maj. Gen. Tracy R. Norris, the Adjutant General of Texas. “Texas Service Members continue to support DPS in this capacity, guarding historical landmarks such as the Alamo and the State Capitol. To be clear, there has been no request nor any plan to provide any type of support at any polling location in Texas.”

In recent weeks, representatives from the Texas Military Department have put forward conflicting messages about use of the troops’ at polling locations. Jones previously told the Express-News that no troops had been ordered to go to polling places, but clarified “that could change.” The Guard also told the Express-News that its commander, Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, had been asked to “draft contingency plans in case of trouble in major cities around the state.”

Gov. Abbott’s office declined to offer any details about the parameters of the election deployment, and referred all inquiries back to the Texas Military Department. Abbott is expected to publicly issue the order later this week.

Guardsmen briefly deployed to downtown San Antonio in June during the George Floyd protests.