What one elections official described as a “concerning unknown chemical” has been found inside an absentee ballot submitted in Adams County, Colorado.
The ballot was at the county clerk’s office in Brighton — about 40 miles northeast of Denver — on Wednesday when someone noticed white powder spilling out of the sealed ballot, according to WUSA-TV.
Hazmat units, paramedics, firefighters and other law enforcement agencies were called to the county offices Zygielbaum said, according to ABC News.
The FBI is now investigating the incident.
The envelope was tested for narcotics, explosives and biological agents — all of which initially came up negative.
“The substance was inside the envelope, and there was a fairly significant amount,” Adams County Clerk Josh Zygielbaum said. “Initial results are negative for anything toxic, but full confirmation will take up to five days.”
Zygielbaum said the ballot showed traces of cooking substances and a “concerning unknown chemical,” The Colorado Sun reported.
Further lab testing has been ordered.
Adams County Public Information Officer William Porter said the ballot was deposited at a ballot drop box in Thornton on Tuesday, according to the Northern Glenn-Thornton Sentinel.
“Ultimately, this is why we have security protocols,” Porter said. “We don’t want to allow incidents like this to disrupt our elections. This is the new world we live in with evolving threats. So the biggest thing is, we don’t want there to be a panic. We want to people to have confidence in the election.”
Thornton police have interviewed the voter who dropped off the ballot and described the person as cooperative and unaware of how the powder got into the ballot.
BREAKING: Elections officials, police investigating after 2022 ballot with suspicious substance is found in Adams Countyhttps://t.co/3Qb2u3T2g2
— The Colorado Sun (@ColoradoSun) November 3, 2022
Although ABC News quoted officials as saying the incident “appears to be an attempt to disrupt the elections process,” Matt Crane, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, said sometimes odd things happen to ballots.
“I remember in Jefferson County years ago there was something similar,” Crane said. “They were found out to be nothing nefarious. Something very similar to someone putting their ballot down in the kitchen and something got on there.”
Crane said officials will work with the person who submitted the ballot in question to protect the voter’s rights, according to The Gazette in Colorado Springs.
“It’s their constitutional right to be able to vote, and, as election officials, we’re going to protect that right,” Crane said. “The only time an American loses their right to vote is when they are actually convicted and incarcerated on a felony.”
Zygielbaum said ballot counting proceeded despite the incident.
“It really drives home what we’ve been concerned with, but we’ve got great plans in place and will ensure that the election goes off without a hitch,” he said. “And even if we have individuals who are going to try to disrupt the process, we will work around them to make sure it gets done.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.