“I see this as a prelude to 2024, and I also view this as a domestic terrorist event,” Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs stated in an interview on Friday.
Election officials from throughout the nation advised POLITICO that the letters had put their workplaces on excessive alert, and a few feared they’d exacerbate the issues election workplaces have confronted with hiring and sustaining workers, who’ve confronted a barrage of threats since 2020.
And they appear resigned to the expectation that issues will solely worsen because the 2024 election heats up. In two states that hadn’t reported any letters, secretaries of state have been cautious to notice in textual content messages that they hadn’t but obtained any letters.
“It’s just ongoing and constant,” Hobbs stated of threats to election officials.
In Washington state, the letters had very actual penalties: Ballot counting from this week’s municipal elections was delayed in a number of counties, together with for a number of hours in King County, house to Seattle.
Election officials throughout the nation scrambled to guard their employees in response to the information of the letters.
“We are on alert,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson stated in a textual content message. “We are reaching out to our 1,520 local clerks and 83 county clerks to let them know to report anything suspicious and the resources available to them if they encounter anything.”
Some election officials referred POLITICO to the FBI. The company stated in a press release that it “responded to multiple incidents involving suspicious letters sent to ballot counting centers” however stated it had no additional particulars to share.
The memo from the FBI and Postal Service included a picture of one of many envelopes for the suspicious letters. By all accounts, it appears to be like like a traditional letter: a plain white envelope with a typed-out tackle for the Pierce County, Wash., elections workplace.
The letter — which seemingly originated in Portland, Ore., had “Attn Ballots” typed on its entrance.
“Law enforcement is working diligently to intercept any additional letters before they are delivered,” the memo reads. “In at least four instances, preliminary tests of the suspicious substance indicated the presence of fentanyl.”
Local officials are on edge from the mailing.
Dane County, Wisc., Clerk Scott McDonell stated in an e-mail that he obtained an envelope Friday that was much like the one within the memo — nevertheless it ended up simply being an abroad voter registration type. While there have been no studies of the suspicious letters in Wisconsin, McDonell held a workers assembly to go over greatest practices on find out how to deal with mail, following pointers the state election fee circulated Thursday.
In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger stated in a Thursday press convention that “there’s going to be these threats from all different areas, but we want to make sure people understand that election security is our highest priority.” He stated legislation enforcement was attempting to intercept a letter despatched to officials in Fulton County, the state’s largest county and residential to Atlanta.
Raffensperger stated his workplace issued a discover to all 159 counties within the state and made certain officials in Fulton County had naloxone — a drug used to counter an opioid overdose.
“I would tell everyone in America: We all can do better,” he stated.
The letters prompted Hobbs, the Washington secretary of state and an Army veteran, to recall the occasions he assisted in two elections whereas deployed to Iraq and Kosovo.
“I was under threat, but I understood that because I was a soldier,” he stated. “These are not soldiers. They should not be placed in a war zone to uphold our democracy. Yet, that is slowly what’s happening to them.”