This is not good.
On Thursday, authorities were investigating the origin of letters containing fentanyl or other substances that were sent to local election offices. This incident, posing a threat to election workers, appears to have targeted multiple states. Among the potentially affected offices is Fulton County in Georgia, the largest voting jurisdiction in a crucial presidential swing state.
According to ABC7, an advisory from the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, obtained by The Associated Press, indicated that there was no immediate evidence of other election offices in Georgia being targeted. However, Fulton County officials had not responded to requests for comment at that time.
The potential connection to Georgia emerged a day after Washington state authorities evacuated four county election offices while processing ballots from Tuesday’s election, causing a delay in vote-counting. Envelopes containing suspicious powders were sent to election offices in Seattle’s King County, as well as in Skagit, Spokane, and Pierce counties. Substances in King and Spokane counties tested positive for fentanyl, while in one case, it was determined to be baking soda.
A message inside the envelope received by Pierce County election workers conveyed a vague statement about “stopping the election,” according to Tacoma Police spokesperson William Muse. However, there was no identification of a specific candidate, religious group, or political issue.
Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs labeled these incidents as “acts of terrorism to threaten our elections.” The FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice.
The reason authorities suspected a letter might have been sent to the Fulton County election office, as well as whether similar letters were sent to offices in other states, was not immediately clear. In response to the situation, Georgia officials advised counties to take precautions when handling mail in an advisory issued on Thursday.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger stated that his office was actively working to determine if any Georgia officials had received such threats. Emphasizing the need for election officials to be free from fear and intimidation, Raffensperger pledged to ensure that Georgia elections remain free, fair, and secure.
The incident adds to the challenges faced by election offices across the United States, many of which have already taken measures to enhance building security and protect workers due to increased harassment and threats following the 2020 election and false claims of rigging. Fentanyl, a potent opioid contributing to a deadly overdose crisis, was used in the letters, although the risk of fatal overdose from brief contact or inhalation is considered low by researchers.