Nate Persily and Tom Westphal NYDN oped:
t despite such challenges, the vote must go on.
One possible solution: Call in the National Guard. The National Guard provides states with a ready, reliable workforce that can backfill poll worker shortages, sanitize polling sites and provide other emergency assistance to election officials. And involving National Guard personnel has several other advantages. The Guard can often supply significant logistical capacity to transport election materials and have access to some personal protective gear. National Guard units also have systems in place to track which soldiers speak multiple languages — a potentially critical capability for filling legal requirements for bilingual poll workers in certain voting precincts. And there are existing mechanisms to provide federal funds for National Guard operations while keeping the Guard under state control. This can alleviate pressure on state and local budgets — already straining under the coronavirus’ economic impact.
But integrating National Guard soldiers will require proper planning. Mobilizations should be developed alongside other planning efforts, not after the fact. National Guard personnel will require training, supplemental protective equipment, and oversight by experienced election officials. With election officials across the country in the midst of planning for the November elections, the time to begin planning for National Guard assistance is now.