AUSTIN (KXAN) — Governor Greg Abbott said the Texas Army National Guard will be on standby to respond to any protests after Election Day, but they will not be at any polling places.
He told reporters at an event on Wednesday, “our job is to make sure that cities are going to be safe.”
In order to do that, he said they will have “adequate protocols” in place to address any “protests that could turn into riots.”
His comments come in response to reports that 1,000 troops were being deployed to five major Texas cities ahead of the election, as soon as this weekend.
Some people, including Austin City Councilmember Greg Casar, expressed concerns the presence of National Guard troops could intimidate voters. Yet Abbott said troops will play “no role whatsoever” in the election process.
“They will not be at polls or anything like that. They will not be disruptive in the election process, whatsoever,” he said. “They have a goal, and that is to support the efforts they would be called upon to support—the Texas Department of Public Safety.”
The state’s Military Department activated National Guard troops this summer in response to protests in cities like Austin. According to Major General Tracy R. Norris, the Adjutant General of Texas, they were assisting the Texas Department of Public Safety in guarding historical landmarks such as the Alamo and the State Capitol.
“Texas Service Members continue to support DPS in this capacity,” Norris said in a statement.
When asked if the National Guard would have a presence in the City of Houston on or ahead of Nov. 3, the governor said, “it’s erroneous to say that they will have a presence here.”
He noted those decisions would be made on an “as-needed” basis.