Envelopes containing the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl were discovered in election offices in Georgia and Washington state during the week of Election Day 2023, prompting swift responses from officials and raising concerns about the safety of election workers.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced on Thursday that an envelope en route to Fulton County, including Atlanta, had tested positive for fentanyl. Raffensperger emphasized the lethality of the substance, recounting his personal experience with the overdose death of his son due to fentanyl several years ago. Officials in Georgia are taking precautionary measures, providing Narcan, an overdose-reversing nasal spray, to local officials potentially exposed to the in-transit envelope. The state has also placed all other 158 counties on alert.
Simultaneously, in Washington state, multiple locations faced evacuations after suspicious powder was found in four envelopes. Two of these envelopes, located in King County and Spokane County, tested positive for fentanyl. The incidents disrupted the ballot-counting process, prompting Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs to characterize them as acts of terrorism, threatening the democratic process and highlighting the need for enhanced protections for election workers.
This is not the first instance of fentanyl-related incidents in Washington state. In the August 1 primary, election officials in King County, which includes Seattle, received an envelope and letter with trace amounts of fentanyl. Another envelope sent to Okanogan County was found to contain an unharmful substance.
Investigations into the origins of these fentanyl-laced envelopes are ongoing, with collaboration between the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and state and local officials. Raffensperger suggested the possibility of linking the incidents in Georgia and Washington through postmarks during a press conference, labeling the acts as domestic terrorism. The Department of Justice is actively involved in the investigation, underscoring the gravity and potential national implications of these events.
WHOA: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger reveals a letter laced with fentanyl was sent to Fulton County election officials.
Horrible. What idiocy. pic.twitter.com/1klAFWumUY
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) November 9, 2023