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Envelopes laced with fentanyl, other powders sent to election offices

Authorities are investigating who sent letters laced with powdery substances, including fentanyl, to election offices across the U.S.
Envelopes laced with fentanyl, other powders sent to election offices
Posted at 5:55 PM, Nov 09, 2023

Letters laced with powdery substances, including some containing fentanyl, were sent to multiple local election offices across the U.S. in what some lawmakers are calling acts of domestic terrorism.

The suspicious envelopes have appeared in at least five states — Georgia, Oregon, California, Washington and Nevada, according to the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service — and fentanyl was discovered in four cases.

One target appeared to be election offices in Georgia's Fulton County, which is currently spearheading the election interference case against former President Donald Trump and his allies.

Officials told multiple outlets a letter laced with fentanyl was mailed to election workers there, but Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said authorities were working to intercept it before it arrived. But naloxone, an overdose-reversal drug, was sent to the office as a precaution.

Raffensperger said the state is working with federal partners to determine whether any other offices were targeted.

"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 Washington state, election offices in King, Skagit, Spokane and Pierce counties had to be evacuated Wednesday after letters containing "unknown powdery substances" arrived as workers were counting ballots from Tuesday's elections.

SEE MORE: False claims, threats fuel poll worker sign-ups for midterms

Letters received in King and Spokane counties tested positive for fentanyl, and in another office, the substance was determined to be baking soda. 

One letter, postmarked in Portland, Oregon and sent to the Pierce County auditor's office, read: "End elections now. Stop giving power to the right that they don't have. We are in charge now and there is no more need for them," the Associated Press reported.

"The safety of staff and observers is paramount as elections workers across the state open envelopes and count each voter's ballot," Secretary of State Steve Hobbs said. "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."

Law enforcement in California intercepted a suspicious letter headed for Los Angeles County, its registrar reported.

And in Lane County, Oregon, authorities were investigating an envelope that arrived at the election office Wednesday but didn't cause health effects to anyone in contact with it, according to the AP.

Authorities are now investigating who mailed the suspicious to the offices while trying to intercept any other suspicious envelopes from reaching their targeted destination.

Election workers have been subject to an increase in threats in recent years, particularly sparked by the 2020 presidential election and false claims of ballot interference that came after. Some offices have increased security, but some forms of harassment still fall through the cracks.

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