Threats to election security: Fentanyl package sent to northern California voting center


A package with the dangerous drug fentanyl was sent through the mail to a voting office in Northern California, causing one of the workers there to come into contact with it, as stated by officials on Wednesday.

In Yuba County, a countryside region about 40 miles away from Sacramento, the state’s capital, this package arrived on Tuesday. It seemed to have been sent by a legitimate organization and didn’t raise any suspicions at first, according to a spokesperson from the county. When a worker discovered a powder inside and called the police, they found out it was fentanyl through a preliminary test. More tests are planned to double-check this finding.

“We are grateful that no one was harmed in this incident and we will continue to exercise caution as we perform the important work of conducting elections,” Donna Hillegass, the Yuba County elections clerk-recorder, said in a statement.

In a similar vein, back in November, there were reports of strange packages being sent to voting places in at least five states, including some locations in Sacramento and Los Angeles, with fentanyl inside some of them.

Following the recent event, California’s secretary of state’s office warned election officials throughout the state and provided advice on how to keep safe.

“I am relieved that nobody was harmed,” Shirley Weber, the state’s top voting official, said in a statement. “The response of the Yuba County registrar’s team and sheriff’s office minimized potential harm and ensured my office could provide immediate guidance to the state’s 57 other counties.”

Since 2020, election offices across the US have been under threat and faced harassment. This is because Donald Trump and some of his followers wrongly said the election was stolen from him, leading to doubts about the fairness of American elections.

In California, these threats have mostly happened in smaller, rural counties. For example, Nevada County, which is next to Yuba, had to spend more on security in 2022 due to harassment. The legal team there even got a court order against some locals who barged into the election office and threatened a worker.

Shasta County, known for its strong conservative views and a large number of people who deny the fairness of elections, has seen a lot of this trouble. It’s a place with 180,000 people in the northern part of the state. There, election workers have been constantly questioned by skeptics, and aggressive monitors have tried to stop what they call “fraud.” Also, some right-wing leaders wrongly say the county’s elections are rigged.

To keep things safe, the Shasta election office had to bring in extra security, including guards and deputies, especially during the ballot counting in November’s election.

“Ten years ago I never thought I’d have to strategize how to protect my staff,” Cathy Darling Allen, the county’s registrar of voters, told the Guardian in November.

Election offices in the US have been improving their security measures and doing more to keep their staff safe. This includes getting naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of fentanyl, especially after dangerous packages were sent around the time of the last election.

These suspicious packages caused some offices to evacuate and slowed down the counting of votes in certain places. Both the FBI and the US Postal Inspection Service were able to stop some of these packages, which were meant for offices in Sacramento and Los Angeles.

The secretary of state in Washington highlighted the constant threats election officials are dealing with, after four offices had to evacuate due to receiving suspicious letters. Steve Hobbs, speaking to Politico, called these threats a sign of what might happen in 2024 and likened them to acts of domestic terrorism.

“I see this as a prelude to 2024, and I also view this as a domestic terrorist event,” Steve Hobbs said in an interview with Politico.

The sheriff’s department in Yuba County is looking into the recent incident. The county has mentioned that its workers have been trained to spot and deal with suspicious packages and that they have naloxone available.

Weber expressed hope in a statement that law enforcement will find and prosecute anyone trying to scare, threaten, or harm election workers.

Joshua Caruzzo
Joshua Caruzzo
Josh is US News Hub power member. Yes, he really is. He is the one who covers local news about Los Angeles County including local news about Los Angeles, Long Beach and surrounding cities of Santa Monica, Pasadena, Irvine, Burbank, Arcadia and more…

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