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Powdery substance found with ballot was not harmful

The voter didn't know how the powder got into the ballot and disclosed "no ill intent", Thornton Police said.

BRIGHTON, Colo. — Further testing revealed that a powdery white substance that was found with a ballot in a drop box was not harmful.

The ballot was isolated after someone noticed powder spilling out of its envelope Wednesday and it was reported to the Adams County Sheriff's Office, the Thornton Police Department and the FBI

The envelope was never opened and was still sealed when hazmat, paramedics and authorities responded to test the substance, which was negative for narcotics, explosives and biological agents. 

Initial results showed some of the powder contained cooking substances, but a "concerning unknown chemical" was found in samples. Those samples were sent to the state lab for further testing and the tests confirmed the substance was not harmful, Thornton Police said Friday.

Detectives have talked to the voter who dropped off the ballot. The voter was cooperative and didn't know how the powder got into the ballot, the department said. For now, police said, they have no evidence of a crime.

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Since it was determined the ballot is safe, the clerk's office will move forward with processing it.

"The only time someone in Colorado loses their right to vote is when they are incarcerated on a felony conviction," Adams County Clerk and Recorder Josh Zygielbaum said. "As this incident is still under investigation, we will ensure that this voter maintains their right to vote."

Zygielbaum also said he wanted to assure voters that the public is safe. "The election is secure, and they can and should feel comfortable voting," he said.

Ballot counting was not interrupted while investigators responded and handled the suspicious ballot.

Matt Crane, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, said that similar incidents have been reported in the past that did not involve any criminal actions or intent.

"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."

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