Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

CISA, FBI, EAC and USPIS Release Election Mail Handling Procedures to Protect Against Hazardous Materials

February 15, 2024
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Guidance highlights mail handling considerations unique to the election infrastructure subsector
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WASHINGTON – Today, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) published Election Mail Handling Procedures to Protect Against Hazardous Materials. This resource helps officials understand safe mail handling procedures and provides guidance on responding to potential hazardous materials exposure.

Over the past two decades, U.S. government offices and employees have been the target of multiple incidents using letters containing hazardous materials, including suspicious letters mailed to election offices in California, Georgia, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington in 2023. Since mail is a key component of both standard office operations and mail balloting across the country, this guidance document provides information for election offices on how to identify and handle potentially suspicious mail and respond to potential hazardous materials exposure while handling suspicious mail. The guide also provides specific information on how to protect against the three hazardous powders of greatest concern, fentanyl, anthrax, and ricin, in addition to more routine mail hazards.

“CISA is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with state and local election officials who face a complex threat environment,” said CISA Director Jen Easterly. “Today’s guidance on safe mail handling procedures will help election officials and others on the frontlines of our democracy take steps to protect themselves and their personnel from hazards sent through the mail.  We will continue to work with our partners to ensure election officials have the information and resources they need to run a safe, secure and resilient election.”

“It is essential for the FBI to leverage force multipliers, through strong partnerships and informational campaigns, like this one, which focus on election mail handling procedures,” said Susan Ferensic, Assistant Director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. “This guidance will further strengthen the ability of those on the frontlines to be better prepared to identify and handle suspicious mail. The FBI will continue to reinforce proactive partnerships in an effort to protect election workers.”

EAC Chairwoman Christy McCormick, Vice Chair Ben Hovland, Commissioner Donald Palmer, and Commissioner Thomas Hicks said in the following joint statement: “The safety of election workers is a top priority for the EAC, as it should be for all Americans. To ensure our elections run smoothly, election officials must be able to carry out essential tasks such as opening and receiving mail without risking their health. Due to the multiple incidents involving election offices being sent hazardous materials, we urge election workers to exercise caution when handling mail by following the guidance in this resource. We will continue to work with federal partners to support officials as they conduct fair, safe, and secure elections in 2024 and beyond.”

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to ensuring the safe and secure delivery of Election Mail, the integrity of our elections and the protection of election offices and election officials from threatening and dangerous mail,” said Gary Barksdale, Chief Postal Inspector.  “This guidance is part of our collaborative efforts with our federal partners to raise awareness with the election community of suspicious, threatening, and dangerous mail and steps that can be taken to prepare for, and respond to, these incidents should they arise.  We encourage all election offices to implement the recommendations that are part of this guidance.”

To learn more, visit Election Mail Handling Procedures to Protect Against Hazardous Materials on CISA.gov.

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About CISA

As the nation’s cyber defense agency and national coordinator for critical infrastructure security, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency leads the national effort to understand, manage, and reduce risk to the digital and physical infrastructure Americans rely on every hour of every day.

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