The Office of the Secretary of State says it is “monitoring” reports of suspicious materials in envelopes received by elections officials in King and Okanogan counties.
Local, state, and federal authorities are investigating the incidents, which occurred while election workers were processing ballots from the Aug. 1 primary election.
A suspicious letter reportedly received on July 31 by the King County Elections office was turned over to the United States Postal Inspection Service, which performed an analysis that detected trace amounts of fentanyl, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
The Okanogan County Courthouse was evacuated Wednesday after the auditor’s office contacted authorities that afternoon to report receiving an envelope containing an unidentified substance, which is currently being tested, according to the Office of the Secretary of State.
Because both investigations are ongoing, the office says it can provide no further information about either incident. No connection is known between the two situations.
“Elections offices in every county in Washington have had to develop emergency plans and protective strategies for events like these, which should serve as a sobering reminder of the dangers that surround our elections process and elections workers,” Secretary of State Steve Hobbs said. “My office and I will provide all the resources at our disposal to any county that needs help confronting any challenge, and will continue to advocate for stronger protection for all elections workers.”
In July, Hobbs announced the availability of up to $80,000 in election-security funding for each Washington county that uses an Albert sensor to monitor security risks to their elections networks. This is the second year for this funding program, which distributed more than $1.57 million during fiscal year 2022-23 for county election security.
Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections.