Wisconsin National Guard serves as poll workers, may be first time in nation's history

Sgt. Monica Miggins sanitizes voters’ hands before entering a polling place in Fitchburg (Courtesy: Spc. Emma Anderson)
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- In a first for the Wisconsin National Guard, Citizen Soldiers and Airmen served as poll workers on Election Day.

On Tuesday they served in 71 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Florence County did not need the Guard’s assistance. A spokesman said it may be the first time in the nation’s history the National Guard mobilized to staff polling sites during an emergency.

The Guard members were dressed in civilian attire and helped support clerks due to a shortage of poll workers due to the COVID-1 pandemic.

Sgt. Monica Miggins worked at a Fitchburg polling station. She hoped their efforts alleviated the burden on other poll workers.

“We’re making a positive impact because there a lot of people who volunteer who are elderly,” said Miggins. “So this helps out with letting them avoid contact with people by letting younger Soldiers take their duties.”

More than 2,4000 troops mobilized within 48 hours of receiving their missing on April 5. They completed several hours of Wisconsin Elections Commission training and helped setup polling sites.

“The National Guard has been wonderful,” Fitchburg City Clerk Tracy Oldenburg said. “We would not be able to run our polling locations without them. A lot of our normal polling volunteers are over the age of 70 and due to the Coronavirus they are unable to serve. So it’s been awesome for the National Guard to step up and fill those positions.”

The National Guard will also help with polling station cleanup and process ballots, if needed.

Troops are also helping staff at two state-run voluntary self-isolation facilities in Milwaukee and Madison. They are providing medical monitoring and administrative support. A spokesman with the guard says approximately 12 personnel are staffing each state run facility, and nearly 30 are assisting at a Milwaukee-run facility.