Fentanyl-filled mail raises alarm after letter sent to Ga. election office
ATLANTA, Ga. - Officials have intercepted a letter possibly laced with fentanyl that was sent to the Fulton County elections office, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
The letter was one of several sent to multiple election offices across the country, including in California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada, the Associated Press reported. Four of them contained fentanyl, the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service said.
Authorities are trying to determine who sent letters filled with fentanyl or other substances to local election offices across the country.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said his office was alerted Wednesday that one of the five envelopes was sent to the Fulton County elections office. Office staff are reportedly being trained on how to use Narcan, which can reverse drug overdoses.
Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director Travis Doss says although there were “a few issues” in 2020, his agency hasn’t had any problems so far this year.
There also haven’t been any problems in Columbia County, said Nancy Gay, the election director there.
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A U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson said the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating the suspicious letters, but had no further comment.
It was not immediately clear how authorities came to suspect that a letter might have been sent to the Fulton County election office or whether similar ones went to election offices in other states.
In an advisory Thursday, Georgia officials warned counties to take precautions when handling mail.
“Dealing with suspicious mail threats targeting election offices is a critical concern for maintaining the personal safety of election personnel and the integrity and security of the electoral process,” the advisory said.
Raffensperger said “domestic terrorists” will not stop the public’s right to a fair election.
“We will work tirelessly to ensure that Georgia elections remain free, fair, and secure,” he said.
The potential Georgia connection surfaced a day after authorities in Washington state said four county election offices had to be evacuated as election workers were processing ballots cast in Tuesday’s election, delaying vote-counting.
Election offices in Seattle’s King County and ones in Skagit, Spokane and Pierce counties received envelopes containing suspicious powders. Local law enforcement officials said the substances in Kings and Spokane counties field-tested positive for fentanyl. In at least one other case, the substance was baking soda.
WHAT IS FENTANYL?
- Fentanyl, an opioid that can be 50 times as powerful as the same amount of heroin, is driving an overdose crisis deadlier than any the U.S. has ever seen as it is pressed into pills or mixed into other drugs. Researchers have found that the risk of fatal overdose from accidentally briefly touching or inhaling the drug is low, however.
Tacoma police spokesperson William Muse said a message inside the envelope received by Pierce County election workers said “something to the effect of stopping the election.”
Muse said “there was no candidate that was identified. There was no religious-affiliated group identified. There was no political issue identified. It was just that vague statement.”
Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs said the incidents in his state were “acts of terrorism to threaten our elections.”
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