The suspicious letters sent to voting centers and government buildings in six states this month are undeniably creepy, some bearing the hallmarks of fentanyl or white powder, accompanied by less-than-veiled threats and dubious political symbols.
Returning attacks on anthrax that killed five people in 2001, the letters prompted election officialsalready frustrated with constant harassment and threats, to ask local police, firefighters and health departments for help stocking naloxone, an overdose reversal drug.
Although there is a small risk from accidental contact with synthetic opioidshaving an antidote on hand isn’t a bad idea amid an addiction epidemic that kills more than 100,000 people in the United States each year, and it could provide some reassurance to overburdened voters, said the election administrators.
“My team is always direct fire just because we’re opening billions ticketdepending on the election,” said Eldon Miller, who heads the King County Elections ballot opening staff in Seattlewho stocked up on naloxone after receiving a letter with fentanyl in August. “I always tell my team, ‘Your safety is the most important thing to me.'”
Las cards sent this month to voting centers or government buildings in six states: Georgia, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington and Kansas. Some were intercepted before arriving, but others were surrendered, prompting evacuations and a brief delay in vote count in local elections. she F.B.I and the United States Postal Inspection Service is investigating.
Some of the letters with a antifascist symbola flag of pride in progress and a STAFF. While the symbols are sometimes associated with left-wing politics, they are also used by conservative figures to brand and stereotype the left. The sender’s political leanings are unclear.
she fentanylan opioid that can be 50 times stronger than the same amount of heroincaused a crisis of overdose when used in pills or mixed with other drugs. A brief exposure does not cause an overdose, and researchers have found that the risk of a fatal overdose from accidental exposure is low, unlike anthrax powder, which can float in the air and cause fatal infections if inhaled.
Poll workers across the country have been surrounded by threats, harassment and intimidation since the former president Donald Trump and his supporters started spreading false election claims after he lost the 2020 election.
“I hope we encourage people not to hurt election officials,” said Anne Dover, the county’s director of elections. Cherokee, in the suburbs of Atlanta, which did not receive any suspicious letters. “Many people left the countryside. It’s not just about threats of physical harm. “There was a lot of emotional and psychological abuse.”
Dover contacted fire department officials this month, who gave him Narcan, the version of naloxone of nasal spray. Naloxone can be obtained without a prescription, is given to people of all ages, and is harmless to people without opioids in your body.
His office is also taking new precautions to mail: leave it in a particular place and instruct someone to open it with gloves and a mask.
The province of LaneOregon, which received a suspicious letter, provide naloxone kits and train election staff to administer them. So is Lincoln County, Nevada, which has not received any suspicious letters.
The Office of the Secretary of State of Georgia, Brad Raffenspergersaid this week that it would provide naloxone in any of the state’s 159 counties after a letter was intercepted on its way to Fulton County election officials in Atlanta tested positive for opioids.
By condemning the cardsRaffensperger noted that one of his sons died in a fentanyl overdose about five years ago: “We know how deadly this substance is.”
The others cards, including those sent to King and Pierce counties in Washington state, have striking similarities to those received in King County while counting votes in August this year. she accident leading King County elections to buy naloxone, even though the antidote was not needed at the time or when his Renton office received a second letter with fentanyl this month.
“We feel like it’s a good idea to use it for all kinds of scenarios these days,” said King County elections spokeswoman Halei Watkins. “It’s ours in certain areas of the building and we’ve attached it to first aid kits first aid and emergency supplies that go to our centers voting out.”
Maya Doe-Simkins, co-director of Remedy Alliance/For The People, which launched last year to provide free or low-cost naloxone to community harm reduction programs, said governments They should focus more on providing the antidote to those who work with people who are prone to overdose.
There is no shortage of naloxoneavailable online and in some drugstores, but its distribution leaves much to be desired, Doe-Simkins said.
“This is a very serious misuse of resources to spend money to ensure that election officials have naloxoneDoe-Simkins said, especially because “actually appropriate, evidence-based interventions for naloxone distribution are underfunded and under-resourced.”
Chris Anderson, Seminole County supervisor of elections, Floridasaid his office had not received any envelopes containing the contents fentanyl by mail, but got a large dose of Narcan this month from the fire department, which says it has an adequate supply.
“We can instantly save a life with them,” Anderson said. “I appreciate the advice given to us by medical professionals and we will certainly do everything to avoid use Narcanbut in case of necessity, I would rather have and not need than need and not have”.
In Tacoma, Washington, Pierce County Auditor Linda Farmer said her office obtained naloxone after a similar experience in King County in August. This month the office received a threatening letter containing baking soda and used the occasion to emphasize again that naloxone was available.
“Last week we reminded the staff where to find it,” Farmer said.