- Flickr / Erik (HASH) Hersman
The Texas Army National Guard said Monday that it received orders from the governor to dispatch up to 1,000 troops to San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston for "post-election support" of local law enforcement.
"We have not had informal discussions or received official confirmation that Texas National Guard troops will be sent to San Antonio," San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement supplied to the Current. "And we have no indication that they will be needed."
Judge Nelson Wolff was traveling and unavailable for immediate comment. However, he told the Express-News that during his 70 years in San Antonio he's never seen serious unrest around elections.
"I don’t anticipate any," Wolff said. "Let me emphasize, we’ve got a good police department, a good sheriff’s department, we’ve got a good emergency department. … We really don’t need any help."
Texas Guard officials said troops will not be positioned at polling places, which voting-rights groups say would intimidate voters.
"To be clear, there has been no request nor any plan to provide any type of support at any polling location in Texas," Maj. Gen. Tracy R. Norris, the Texas Guard's adjutant general, said in a statement to Houston Public Media.
Norris' comment appears to contradict an earlier statement by guard spokesman Brandon Jones to the Express-News. He said that while there were no plans to position personnel at election sites, "that could change."
In either case, the deployment could further ratchet up tension between Abbott, a Republican, and big Texas municipalities, which are largely under Democratic control. Local leaders including Nirenberg and Wolff have pushed back at Abbott's handling of the pandemic and his willingness to override local control.
St. Mary's University political science professor Art Vega questioned whether spreading 1,000 troops between five major cities would be even be effective if major unrest boils over.
"It seems to be more of a symbolic move than a practical one," Vega said of the governor's move.
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.