West Virginia mail carrier charged in voter fraud case

Early voting for the 2020 Presidential Preference Primary kicked off Monday in Bay County. (MGN)
Early voting for the 2020 Presidential Preference Primary kicked off Monday in Bay County. (MGN)(WJHG)
Published: May. 26, 2020 at 4:36 PM EDT
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A mail carrier in Pendleton County has been charged in connection with the alleged manipulation of absentee voter requests, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell and Secretary of State Mac Warner announced.

Attorney General Morrisey's Office said in a press release that Thomas Cooper, 47, of Dry Fork, has been charged with attempting to defraud the residents of West Virginia of a fair election. An affidavit accompanying the criminal complaint states Cooper fraudulently altered eight absentee ballot requests in Pendleton County, of which the complaint states he fraudulently changed the party affiliation on five from Democrat to Republican.

“Manipulating one’s absentee ballot or application is not a laughing matter – it’s a federal offense,” Morrisey said. “We must protect the integrity of the ballot box, and this demonstrates the aggressive action we will take to do so. It is more important now than ever for voters to watch for unexplained or suspicious marks and/or any other irregularity with their ballot. If something looks suspicious, let us know right away.

According to the affidavit, Cooper accessed the ballot requests through his employment as a mail carrier. He was responsible for mail delivery in the three towns the tampered request were mailed – Onego, Riverton and Franklin.

The affidavit says Cooper admitted to altering some of the requests.

The alterations were caught by an elections officials in the Pendleton County Courthouse, according to the press release. The official reported it to the state’s Election Fraud Task Force.

Secretary of State Warner noted the alertness and quick reaction by Pendleton County election officials.

“We want everyone to be tuned into the increased opportunities for fraud," said Warner. "Voting absentee makes it easy to vote, but increases opportunities for irregularities and fraud to occur. If you see something, say something."