Bipartisan effort takes stands against mail-in threats

In a rare but welcome showing of bipartisanship, residents briefly organized in Port Orchard Nov. 14 to show support for election workers amid the buildup of threats being made against the government employees.

A small crowd containing both Republican and Democratic residents hastily joined together at the doors of the Kitsap County Administration Building days after reports indicated that suspicious letters had been sent to election offices in Georgia, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington.

Six election offices in King, Spokane, Pierce, Thurston, Snohomish and Skagit counties have been reportedly targeted by envelopes said to contain questionable substances. At least two were reported as field-testing positive for traces of fentanyl, but no injuries reported. Messages like, “End Elections Now” accompany letters such as the one shared to the public by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

Kitsap has not been a target, but Kingston resident Jeff Wiley representing Kitsap Democrats said it was important to recognize those working the county elections for their hard work. “We just wanted to remind them they’re doing a good job and that we were concerned for their safety, and we’ll do everything we can to make it so they don’t have to fear for their lives.”

Republicans replicated the message. Elizabeth Doll with Kitsap County Republicans and the nonpartisan group Braver Angels said, “They now know that we all have their backs, and we want to make sure they know they’re doing a great job.”

Kitsap auditor Paul Andrews joined the gathering, calling it a testament to the good people of the county. “We are a tight community, and the bipartisan support is great as we see it throughout the elections,” he said.

With the 2024 presidential race less than a year away, worry remains that poll workers will continue to be threatened. “We do have procedures in place,” Andrews said, “and you never want to have to enact those. I think the expectation is statewide that we will see more disruption (in 2024), and we don’t know what that looks like yet.”

Doll couldn’t help but share her frustration, saying such a dangerous matter should not come down to political ties, but common sense. “What matters is that we all support our election workers being safe, and we don’t want to see them threatened. The integrity of our election system is paramount, and that requires that our election workers not face threats for doing their jobs adequately.”