Authorities in Georgia and Washington are currently probing into “suspicious” envelopes that were mailed to election offices on Wednesday. Officials are characterizing these packages as acts of “terrorism,” sparking investigations into the matter.
Steve Hobbs, the Secretary of State in Washington, has disclosed that election workers in multiple counties received envelopes containing “unknown powdery substances” on Wednesday. This led to the evacuation of the affected offices.
The Spokane Police Department has confirmed that an envelope containing white powder received by the Spokane County Elections Office tested positive for fentanyl and negative for agents and explosives.
A powdery envelope sent to election workers in King County has also shown a “presumptive” positive result for fentanyl, according to Detective Robert Onishi of the Renton Police Department. The substance will undergo additional lab testing to confirm and determine the quantity of fentanyl it contains.
Another elections office in Pierce County was evacuated when a worker discovered an envelope “that dispersed a white powdery substance.”
The Washington State Patrol and Tacoma fire crews swiftly responded and confirmed that the substance in question was determined to be baking soda, as stated by a police spokesperson.
The spokesman told the outlet: “A letter inside the envelope said “something to the effect of stopping the election, 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.”
Secretary Hobbs stated: “The safety of staff and observers is paramount as elections workers across the state open envelopes and count each voter’s ballot, 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.”
In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has confirmed that Fulton County election officials also received “suspicious letters.”
“We’re working with our state and federal partners to determine if any additional Georgia officials are being targeted, domestic terrorists will not trample on our right to free and fair elections,” Raffensperger said in a statement obtained by ABC News.
Georgia officials did not specify what was in the envelopes due to the ongoing investigation.
“We are aware of the reports, and the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating this matter,” a Department of Justice spokesperson noted.
Branches of the FBI in Georgia and Washington also confirmed their collaboration in the investigation with local law enforcement.
The bureau’s local office said: “FBI Seattle, along with our law enforcement partners, responded to multiple incidents involving suspicious letters sent to ballot counting centers in Washington state, as this is an ongoing matter, 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.”
Hobbs’ press release also recounted how election officials around the state received additional suspicious substances during Washington’s August 1 primary:
King County and Okanogan County election officials received suspicious substances in envelopes. The envelope and letter received by King County Elections were turned over to the United States Postal Inspection Service, which performed an analysis that detected trace amounts of fentanyl. The substance found in the Okanogan County envelope was determined to be unharmful.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) denounced the disturbing deliveries as a “threat to the vote itself.”
“Our elections are sacred, and the guardianship of democracy begins at the local level in county offices across our state. Any threat to election workers is a threat to the vote itself,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“This is, unfortunately, just the latest attack on democracy as our county offices have had to pay for increased security in recent years,” Inslee continued.
“Every elected official should take this as an opportunity to reaffirm the integrity of our system, the will of the people, and the public servants from our communities who make it work,” he said, adding that he is still “confident” in his state’s election integrity.
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