Yuba County elections office is the latest to receive toxic letter

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In the latest apparent attack on election officials around the country, Yuba County’s elections office in Sacramento received a letter Wednesday morning apparently laced with fentanyl, the deadly synthetic opiate.

According to a press release from Yuba County, a staff member in the office opened an envelope that “ did not appear suspicious in nature and was addressed from a verified sender” and noticed a powdery substance.

The staff member did not touch the substance and was uninjured, said Rachel Abbott, the county’s public information officer.

A field test by the local sheriff’s office indicated that the substance was fentanyl, Abbott said, although further testing by the Department of Justice will be conducted.

In November, the FBI and U.S. Postal Service inspectors reported that they intercepted four fentanyl-tainted letters addressed to election offices in Georgia, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington.

The Postal Service also intercepted two suspicious envelopes headed to election facilities in Los Angeles and Sacramento, and the origin and contents are under investigation. “There has been no confirmation that these envelopes contained any toxic substances,” said California Secretary of State Shirley Weber.

Nevertheless, Weber said, there are concerns that the letters were part of a trend of suspicious mail sent to election offices elsewhere.

“We will continue to work with state and federal law-enforcement authorities on responding to any threats to California elections officials,” she said.

In light of the similar incidences around the country, Yuba County elections staff had recently undergone training how to identify suspicious packages and to report and handle potentially dangerous substances. The office had also been equipped with Narcan, which can treat a toxic exposure to or overdose from narcotic substances in an emergency.

“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,” said Yuba County Elections Clerk-Recorder Donna Hillegass.

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