by J.D. Davidson
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine did not hesitate when asked if the Ohio National Guard would be used on election day to help keep the peace. Troops will provide support, although DeWine hopes a need doesn’t arise.
Speaking this week at a news conference to announce $5 billion of help for businesses across the state during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, DeWine said guard troops could be used in the same roles as during summer protests in some cities, as support for local law enforcement.
“The guard will play the role that the guard should play and does play, and this is as a backup,” DeWine said.
However, he said mayors or sheriffs must request the help.
“I will not hesitate if a mayor or sheriff requests that help,” DeWine said. “We will have that discussion, and then we will deploy the National Guard. We hope we don’t have that situation.”
Speaking later in the week, DeWine said Ohioans should feel confident in going to the polls.
“We have a long history in this country of having fair, free and peaceful elections. We’ve done that for over 200 years, and we’ve done exceedingly well,” DeWine said. “Are there people out there who might want to disrupt that? Of course there are. If we need to do things, we will do that. The National Guard is limited by federal law as to what they can do, particularly around elections. I think people should have confidence they can go to the polls.”
Because many poll workers are at a vulnerable age and are not available, some states, like Kentucky, will use non-uniformed guard troops to help at polling locations in a variety of ways.
Ohio, however, reported a record number of poll workers trained as of Thursday.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said 56,789 Ohioans are trained and prepared to serve as poll workers in the general election, passing his goal of a little more than 55,000. That number is 150% of the minimum needed on election day.
“Ohioans are stepping up to serve as poll workers this election season at a pace never seen before, showing the world the civic engagement and can-do sense of public service our state has always exemplified,” LaRose said. “We will continue supporting our counties however we can, while holding the bipartisan board of elections accountable, so that voters who haven’t already cast their ballot will have a safe and positive experience at their polling locations next Tuesday.”
While Ohio set a record for poll workers, five counties still lag behind their 150% goal, including Ashtabula, Greene, Jackson, Pike and Vinton.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Ohio National Guard” by National Guard CC BY 2.0.