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Story by Capt. Cassandra J. Mullins, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
FRANKFORT, KY — More than 200 Kentucky National Guard Soldiers and
Airmen will assist local officials at polling locations around the state for
Kentucky’s upcoming primary election day, June 23, as part of the state’s
on-going response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guard members, who
will serve in civilian clothes and not in uniform, will perform non-election
officer duties including setting up and cleaning poll locations, as well as assisting
with traffic, parking and crowd control in a non-law enforcement capacity under
the direction of election officers. The
Kentucky National Guard will not perform duties reserved for trained election
officials, including handling ballots or screening voters to determine who can
Many of Kentucky’s
poll workers are older and have to self-quarantine because of high risk factors
for the coronavirus, creating a need for extra help at the polls, said Col.
Andrew Bates, Kentucky National Guard deputy chief of staff, plans. This
partnership will help protect those who are most vulnerable and allow them to
remain healthy at home, he said.
“The National Guard has been asked to help in many different
ways around the Commonwealth, as we stand together against the COVID pandemic,”
Bates said. “This is just another way the Kentucky Guard is making a difference
in their neighbor’s lives in times of crisis.”
Lt. Col. Andrew Caldwell, director of Military Support
for the Kentucky National Guard, said this is the first time, to his knowledge,
the Kentucky Guard has been asked to assist in an election. He said those
Soldiers and Airmen who are assisting volunteered to do so.
“We are here to support the Commonwealth,” Caldwell
said. “At a time when most of the volunteers at the polling stations are in the
high-risk category for the Coronavirus, we are here to step into that role and
protect our state and our citizens.”
In addition, Caldwell said Guard members will only
serve at locations in which election officials requested Kentucky Guard
The 44 counties requesting Guard support include:
Bell, Bourbon, Bracken, Breathitt, Campbell, Christian, Clark, Daviess, Estill,
Fayette, Fleming, Fulton, Grant, Graves, Greenup, Hardin, Henderson, Jefferson,
Johnson, Kenton, Knott, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, Lincoln, Magoffin, Marshall,
Martin, Mason, McCreary, Meade, Muhlenberg, Nelson, Nicholas, Pendleton, Perry,
Rowan, Shelby, Spencer, Warren, Washington, Webster and Woodford counties.
director of the Jefferson County Election Center, said Guard members were
invaluable in assisting with setting up poll stations in his county ahead of
the election. Vowels said because of social distancing requirements, his center
has never had to setup polling locations this large.
“Our office does
not have many employees in it,” Vowels said. “We could not have made this
happen without them (the Guard),” he said. “The help has really been tremendous.”
County, where residents can already cast their vote utilizing drive-through or
walk-in stations, Anderson County Clerk Jason Denny said Guard assistance has
been a great benefit.
“The Soldiers have
been helping us with traffic control and doing things like sanitizing voting
stations to help prevent the spread of the virus,” he said. “It’s been very
beneficial. We appreciate the Guard being able to do this for us.”
On June 12, 2020, David
Cureton, Kentucky Guard chief warrant officer two, received a thumbs-up from a
voter as he directed traffic through a drive-through voting station at the
Anthony Stratton Building in Lawrenceburg, Ky.
“I’m just doing my
part to help provide support during COVID-19,” Cureton said.
In the wake of the
COVID pandemic, the Kentucky National Guard has found itself serving in multiple
capacities from assisting with food banks to turning an exhibit hall at the state fairgrounds into a field
hospital. This year has presented several missions that require
skillsets that are not often required to be used outside of the training
environment said Maj. John Kwiek,
Kentucky National Guard special project officer.
Kentucky National Guard Soldiers have excelled at every task placed in front of
them,” Kwiek said. “Our Soldiers have shown the Commonwealth and their communities
that we have been trained to provide assistance in many capacities, both home
With this most
recent assignment, Kentucky joins other states who have also recently utilized
Guard members in elections, including Nebraska and Wisconsin. While preparing
to assist at polls, Kentucky Guard leaders said they studied best practices
from the Wisconsin National Guard, who reported a successful election-support