US election: Texas calls in National Guard amid ‘voting day violence’ row
Democrats accuse Republican governor of seeking to deter voters by calling up troops
A political argument has broken out in Texas about the deployment of National Guard units to several of the state’s big cities in the run-up to next week’s election.
A senior officer said the “activation of troops would be for ‘post election’ support of local law enforcement”, the San Antonio Express-News reports. Soldiers will also be “guarding historical landmarks such as the Alamo and the State Capitol”, another officer said.
But Democrats have accused Greg Abbott, the Republican state governor, of attempting to deter people from voting in urban areas. Polls suggest that liberal voters in Texan cities like Austin, San Antonio and Dallas could hand Joe Biden victory, overturning Donald Trump’s nine-point margin in the state in 2016.
“The governor could choose to make clear why he is doing this, he could make clear that voting is safe and secure, but instead he is choosing to continue his pattern of voter suppression,” Austin city councillor Greg Casar said on Twitter.
Clay Jenkins, a judge in Dallas, said he wasn’t expecting violence during or after the election, and denied that local authorities had been told of the National Guard deployment.
“We’re going to proceed as normal and declare a winner when all the votes are counted, and it’s really as simple as that,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “If this is an attempt to scare voters, Texans have proven that they won’t be intimidated.”
To Beto O’Rourke, who ran for the Senate in Texas two years ago, “the announcement looked eerily familiar”, Politico reports. “In 2018, [the state’s] Border Patrol announced it would be conducting an undefined border control exercise in El Paso on Election Day.”
O’Rourke, who lost the election before mounting an unsuccessful bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee, said: “I’ve lived in El Paso my whole life and there’s never been a fucking border patrol exercise!”