Throughout Kentucky, many of the people who volunteer their time at the voting centers are elderly. They’re the ones being told to shelter at home until the spread of COVID-19 dies down. That leaves a problem, though. With the elections in Kentucky, how are the polling locations going to get the help that they need?
Rather than hearing about riots, police officers walking off the job, or how one arm of government or another has failed, we get to hear a different story. A story of hope and humanity.
Over 200 National Guardsmen in Kentucky have come forward to volunteered their time. They assisted at the various locations on June 23. They served out of uniform and performed various nonelection officer duties, ranging from parking and crowd control to setup and cleanup of the poll locations.
The Guardsmen were asked to help out. The director of military support for the National Guard in Kentucky, Army Lt. Col. Andrew Caldwell, said that this is the first time that they’ve ever been asked to assist in the election. All of the guardsmen participating did so because they volunteered.
Caldwell said that they’re there to support the commonwealth. They know that most of the volunteers typically fall within the high-risk category for the coronavirus. It’s why they are stepping in as a way to protect both the citizens and the state. Those who are the most vulnerable could choose to stay at home where they can be healthy and know that the polling locations were still getting the necessary support.
Only 44 counties in the state will receive guardsmen volunteers as election officials from other counties have not requested any assistance.
The director for the Jefferson County election center, Richard Vowels, has said that the help was invaluable. With the social distancing requirements, it was harder to set up the locations. With not many employees, they are thankful for the guardsmen as they don’t know if it would be possible to handle everything without the added help.
In many instances, the guardsmen have already been helping. In Anderson County, they’d been helping with traffic control while also sanitizing the voting stations to avoid contamination and spreading the virus. Since Anderson County had been allowing early voting with walk-in stations and drive-thrus, the soldiers had a chance to help out for quite a while.
The Kentucky National Guard has been looking for various ways to help the communities since the start of the pandemic. They’ve been active with turning the exhibit hall of the state fairgrounds into a field hospital and helping out at various food banks.
Army Maj. John Kwiek has identified that 2020 has required various skillsets that are not always used outside of the training environment. He has also said that “Our soldiers have shown the commonwealth and their communities that we have been trained to provide assistance in many capacities, both home and abroad.”
The Guardsmen in Kentucky were not the only ones eager to volunteer within their communities. Other states have been turning to the National Guard for help with their elections, including Nebraska and Wisconsin.
Finally, a story of hope and togetherness. While much of the country is looking at ways to divide itself and point the finger at various groups for being “the problem,” the National Guard is looking at being the glue that is very much needed within the community.
Much of what they’re doing is not to earn a paycheck. They’re volunteering. They want to show that they care about the state in which they have sworn to protect, even if it’s something as simple as sanitizing polling stations so those who are high-risk can stay at home. Because that is what being an American is all about.