FBI investigating letters with suspicious powder sent to election workers in multiple states

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The FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating a series of letters containing suspicious powder that were sent to election workers in multiple states in recent days, law enforcement officials told NBC News.

In at least one case, the powder tested positive in a field test for fentanyl, officials said Thursday. There have been no reports of anyone suffering ill health effects, the officials said. The substances found in the letters are still being lab-tested.

In a statement Thursday evening, the FBI said that it had responded to "multiple incidents involving suspicious letters sent to ballot counting centers in several states." The bureau did not provide further details, citing "ongoing matters."

Officials in California, Georgia, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state have all reported suspicious letters addressed to election officers or workers.

The FBI field office in Portland said it had “responded to multiple incidents involving suspicious letters sent to several ballot counting centers in Oregon." The FBI's Seattle and Atlanta field offices issued similar statements.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said it had also responded to a report of a letter containing an unknown substance that had been mailed to the state attorney general's office in Austin on Thursday morning. It said in a statement that preliminary tests on the envelope had come back negative, but that the FBI would do further testing.

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber said Thursday that federal and state authorities were investigating after the U.S. Postal Service intercepted two suspicious envelopes headed to election facilities in Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Weber said there has been no confirmation that the envelopes contained any toxic substances. “Nevertheless, we are advising local election offices to take precautions before handling mail that arrives at their facilities,” she said in a statement.

The Nevada Secretary of State’s Office said in a statement Thursday that the federal government had alerted local authorities of suspicious letters addressed to election offices “in multiple states, including Nevada,” and that it was in touch with the FBI, the Postal Service and others.

Law enforcement officials said it’s too soon to say where the letters came from or who may be responsible. The Postal Inspectors declined to discuss details of their probe.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger referred to the envelopes that were sent to Fulton County as domestic terrorism, and said in a statement that his office was "working with our state and federal partners to determine if any additional Georgia officials are being targeted."

Robb Pitts, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, said in a statement, "This incident underscores the issue of election worker safety and the need for stronger election safety. Our recently-opened Elections Hub will allow us to improve security operations as we go into the 2024 elections."

Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs told The Associated Press the incidents in his state were “acts of terrorism to threaten our elections.”

Hobbs' office said Wednesday that elections offices in King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties had all been sent envelopes containing unknown powdery substances. His office had also noted that during the state's Aug. 1 primary, election officials in King and Okanogan counties received suspicious substances in envelopes.

Investigators determined the one sent to King County contained trace amounts of fentanyl, while the substance in the envelope sent to Okanogan County was deemed unharmful.

The mailings come as election officials around the country have complained of increased threats, with some pointing to the bogus rigged election claims by former President Donald Trump and others since the 2020 election.

Raffensperger said in his statement that election officials should "be free from fear and intimidation."

"We will work tirelessly to ensure that Georgia elections remain free, fair, and secure,” he said.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com