National Guard could be deployed during election

Federal laws and long-standing custom generally leave the U.S. military out of the election process. But President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated warnings about widespread voting irregularities have raised questions about a possible military role.

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October 30, 2020 - 1:08 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal laws and long-standing custom generally leave the U.S. military out of the election process. But President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated warnings about widespread voting irregularities have raised questions about a possible military role.

If any element of the military were to get involved, it would likely be the National Guard under state control. These citizen soldiers could help state or local law enforcement with any major election-related violence. But the Guard’s more likely roles will be less visible — filling in as poll workers, out of uniform, and providing cybersecurity expertise in monitoring potential intrusions into election systems.

Unlike regular active-duty military, the Guard answers to its state’s governor, not the president. Under limited circumstances, Trump could federalize them, but in that case, they would generally be barred from doing law enforcement.

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