Deschutes County is exploring ways to keep their election staff safe after more than a dozen suspicious letters, some containing white powder, were sent to election workers across the country this week.
“We have all options on the table. Reevaluating procedures and process are the biggest ones. And the work flow of how we open mail and who touches mail when and where,” Deschutes County Clerk Steve Dennison said.
The letters were sent to Washington state, Oregon, California, Nevada and Georgia. Initial tests show some of the letters contained trace amounts of fentanyl.
While Deschutes County did not see anything suspicious in this week’s special election, Dennison says election workers will now be required to wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves, while counting ballots moving forward. The clerk’s office is also working with Deschutes County Health to procure and stock Narcan, the overdose-reversing drug.
Although threats have increased in recent years to election workers nationwide, Dennison says there has not been a shortage of election workers in the county.
“I see the opposite. I see more people coming out and wanting to play a part. And that’s something I think comes along with this, too. These suspicious letters that are circulating. It solidifies what we do. It resonates with everybody,” Dennison said.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called it an act of terror.
“This is domestic terrorism and it needs to be condemned by anyone that holds elected office and anyone that wants to hold elected office, anywhere in America,” Raffensperger said.