Election offices in Georgia and Washington state received envelopes containing fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, during the week of national elections.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger disclosed on Thursday that an envelope addressed to Fulton County, which encompasses Atlanta, was intercepted after testing positive for the substance.
“Some people like to call fentanyl a drug, but it’s actually poison. It will kill you. It will kill you very quickly — very easily,” Raffensperger said, poignantly adding that his own son succumbed to a fentanyl overdose years prior.
Washington state officials reported disruptions in ballot counting on Tuesday due to envelopes with a suspicious powder, later identified as fentanyl in some cases. These incidents led to evacuations at several locations, including offices in King and Spokane counties.
“The safety of staff and observers is paramount as elections workers across the state open envelopes and count each voter’s ballot,” stated Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs. He condemned the acts as terrorism, aimed at undermining the electoral process. “These incidents are acts of terrorism to threaten our elections,” Hobbs declared.
In a previous incident during Washington’s primary on August 1, an envelope with trace amounts of fentanyl was also sent to election officials in King County. Another suspicious substance sent to Okanogan County turned out to be harmless.
Authorities, including the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, are investigating the origins of these envelopes. Raffensperger hinted at a potential link between the Georgia and Washington incidents, suggesting that “postmarks and things like that” might connect them. He labeled the actions as “domestic terrorism” and called for universal condemnation from current and aspiring public officials.
“These incidents underscore the critical need for stronger protections for all election workers. Democracy rests upon free and fair elections,” Hobbs emphasized, highlighting the gravity of the situation and the threat it poses to the democratic process.
The investigation is ongoing, with state and federal agencies working to determine the source of these potentially lethal mailings.
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