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sm200512-Z-A3612-1001Pvt. Will Reas of the 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion checks voters into a polling place and ensures that they use hand sanitizer May 12 in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Civil Air Patrol transported hand sanitizer, cleaners and other election supplies in support of the May 12 special election for the 7th Congressional District in northern Wisconsin. Wisconsin National Guard photo

MADISON, Wis. — Voters across northern Wisconsin found plenty of hand sanitizer and other safety supplies at their polling sites during the recent special election in the 7th Congressional District.

The supplies arrived at polling sites for the May 12 election through a unique partnership of 60 members of the Civil Air Patrol and the Wisconsin National Guard.

“The Civil Air Patrol was very instrumental in completing the mission.” said Brig. Gen. Robyn Blader, Wisconsin’s Assistant Adjutant General for readiness and training. “We had a very short notice request to deliver election supplies to the 7th Congressional District. The Civil Air Patrol was able to use their resources and their manpower to assist the Wisconsin Elections Commission to get that mission completed.”

Blader was the Guard’s liaison to the Wisconsin Elections Commission for both the May 12 election and the state’s regular spring election held April 7.  The Guard provided 2,400 election workers for the April election and 140 more supported polling sites in May.

sm200512-Z-A3612-1005A Wisconsin National Guard Soldier cleans a table at a Wausau polling site May 12 to minimize public exposure to COVID-19. The Wisconsin Civil Air Patrol transported hand sanitizer, cleaners and other election supplies in support of the May 12 special election for the 7th Congressional District in northern Wisconsin. Wisconsin National Guard photo

Wisconsin’s largest geographical congressional district, the 7th encompasses all or parts of 26 counties in northern Wisconsin. Providing election supplies to 700 municipalities across the district in an efficient and timely manner required significant coordination between the Wisconsin Election Commission, the Wisconsin National Guard and the Civil Air Patrol.

Over the course of one day, the Civil Air Patrol drove election supplies to most of the counties in the district. Election supplies included hand sanitizers, bleach, cleaning supplies, office supplies, paper products and personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves for the election workers.

Chris Trossen, the agency liaison for the Wisconsin Wing Civil Air Patrol, knows the Civil Air Patrol has the ability to assist the Wisconsin National Guard in completing statewide missions due to its tremendous resource capacity.

“The Civil Air Patrol is an entirely volunteer organization,” said Trossen. “We are incredibly cost effective, we’re also the auxiliary of the Air Force so we’re part of the total force package. We have a lot of people, a lot of resources, and a lot of capacity.”

The Civil Air Patrol consists of approximately 70,000 members throughout its 52 units nationwide. Around 1,100 of those members live and serve in Wisconsin, assisting with missions such as May’s election mission. Both youth, ages 12-20 years old, and adults make up the all-volunteer membership of the Civil Air Patrol. Membership in the Civil Air Patrol happens through hometown squadrons located in communities throughout Wisconsin and the United States.

“Gen. Blader requested the Civil Air Patrol to assist with delivering supplies,” Trossen said. “We were able to take a lot of simple work off the plate of the Wisconsin National Guard and Wisconsin Emergency Management and take care of the deliveries that needed to be done.”

What, if any role, the Guard plays in supporting upcoming state elections later this summer or in the fall remains to be seen, but if the state requests the Guard’s assistance, the Guard stands ready to assist the state, and the Civil Air Patrol and other partners across the state may be part of the solution.

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