2024 Election: Pinal County prepares to keep workers safe from fentanyl

Every election, thousands of early ballots are mailed back and opened by election workers. At the same time, however, election workers might encounter something other than ballots.

"Unfortunately, in 2023, there were some states where early voting departments received some envelopes that had suspicious substances in them," said Pinal County Recorder Dana Lewis.

According to the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, there were a number of suspicious envelopes that were sent to election offices in 2023. These envelopes were received in California, Georgia, Nevada, Oregon and the state of Washington. Four of the envelopes contained fentanyl.

To be prepared in Pinal County, Lewis asked the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office for help, with Lt. Teeple educating election workers on what to look out for when opening envelopes this year.

"Fentanyl, many times, will cause numbness not only in the tongue and face, but the fingertips," said Lt. Ross Teeple with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office. "Loss of balance, and the later stages, loss of consciousness."

The training also includes how to administer Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses an opiod overdose in an emergency. Officials with PCSO said Narcan will be provided to workers ahead of elections.