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Suspicious letters now reported at election offices in five states

Suspicious letters have been reported at election offices this week in Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Georgia.

Fentanyl was found in four of the letters, according to a statement from the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, per The Associated Press. 

“Law enforcement is working diligently to intercept any additional letters before they are delivered,” the statement said, according to the AP.

On Thursday, the office of Washington’s secretary of state confirmed envelopes with “unknown powdery substances” were received in elections offices in four counties. The offices in King, Pierce, Spokane and Skagit counties were evacuated, according to a press release.

“The safety of staff and observers is paramount as elections workers across the state open envelopes and count each voter’s ballot,” Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs said in the release. “These incidents underscore the critical need for stronger protections for all election workers. Democracy rests upon free and fair elections. These incidents are acts of terrorism to threaten our elections.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger also confirmed that there was an envelope headed toward Fulton County that was tested and found to have fentanyl.

“This is domestic terrorism, and it needs to be condemned by anyone that holds elected office and anyone that wants to hold elective office, anywhere in America,” Raffensperger said in a press conference. 

Devon Ashbridge, a public information officer for Lane County, Ore., said staff in an elections office in the county “received a piece of suspicious mail” Wednesday. Ashbridge said they reported it to local law enforcement and the elections office was closed for the rest of the day. 

“It’s certainly a somber mood today, but we’re very grateful that the people who came into contact with that piece of mail, haven’t reported any symptoms or medical issues,” Ashbridge told The Hill Thursday. “So, we’re grateful that everyone is safe, but it’s certainly a chilling reality to come back to work knowing that someone out there, at minimum wanted to terrorize you, and potentially wanted to cause you harm.”

The United States Postal Service was able to intercept suspicious envelopes headed to elections facilities in Los Angeles and Sacramento, according to the AP. 

In a statement sent to The Hill, the FBI said it “along with our law enforcement partners, responded to multiple incidents involving suspicious letters sent to ballot counting centers in several states.”

“As these are ongoing matters, we do not have any further comment, but the public can be assured that law enforcement will continue to keep the public’s safety as its top priority,” the emailed statement continued. “The FBI would also like to remind everyone to exercise care in handling mail, especially from unrecognized senders. If you see something suspicious, please contact law enforcement immediately.”

The Hill has reached out to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. 

Source: The Hill

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