Election 2020

Why Will 1,000 National Guard Troops Deploy In Texas Cities On Election Day?

Gov. Greg Abbott hasn’t given a reason for ordering the troops to Dallas, Houston, Austin, Fort Worth and San Antonio.


The Texas State Capitol in Austin.

On Election Day, members of the Texas Army National Guard will be in the streets of some Texas cities. According to reporting on Monday, the order came from Gov. Greg Abbott. The troops are said to have been called in case of disturbances that arise during the Nov. 3 election.

But many questions remain about where exactly troops will be, and what they'll be doing.

Sig Christenson covers veterans and the military for the San Antonio Express-News. He told Texas Standard that soldiers will be in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

"There's a thousand in all," Christenson said. "But we asked and did not get a breakout of how many go to each city."

Christenson said retired Maj. Gen. James K. "Red" Brown, chief of staff to the guard's commander, told him that Guard troops would do what they did during protests over systemic racism that occurred after the killing of George Floyd, which was "to deter any civil disturbance at sites in various cities within Texas."

Christenson said Bexar County officials don't know what, if any, threats of disturbance the Guard is being deployed to address. The offices of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner have both declined to comment, and Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins did not respond to a request for comment.

"The reason we don't have answers is that the governor did not respond to our list of questions," he said. "We had nine in all."

Christenson said that according to Brown, Guard troops could be stationed at landmarks like the Alamo or the Texas Capitol.

"Beyond that, we have no idea," he said.

Christenson said neither he nor Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff can remember a time when National Guard troops have been deployed to polling places.

"If they were to do that, it would most likely be an unprecedented action, and it raises a lot of questions," Christenson said.

Additional reporting by Houston Public Media’s Paul DeBenedetto and Matt Harab.

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