Man accused of changing party affiliations on absentee voter requests facing charges

Published: May. 26, 2020 at 4:36 PM EDT
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A mail carrier is facing charges Tuesday in connection to the manipulation of absentee voter requests.

According to the Attorney General’s office, Thomas Cooper, 47, of Dry Fork, has been charged with attempting to defraud the residents of West Virginia of a fair election.

An affidavit states that Cooper fraudulently altered eight absentee ballot requests in Pendleton County. Cooper is accused of changing the party affiliation on five requests from Democrat to Republican.

“Manipulating one’s absentee ballot or application is not a laughing matter – it’s a federal offense,” Attorney General 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.”

The affidavit states Cooper accessed the ballot requests through his employment as a rural mail carrier. He was responsible for mail delivery in the three towns from which the tampered requests were mailed – Onego, Riverton and Franklin, the Attorney General says.

According to the affidavit, Cooper admitted to altering some of the requests.

Secretary of State Warner noted the alertness and quick reaction by Pendleton County election officials, and said, “We want everyone to be tuned into the increased opportunities for fraud. Voting absentee makes it easy to vote, but increases opportunities for irregularities and fraud to occur. If you see something, say something.”

Anyone who suspects potential voter fraud should contact the Secretary of State’s Election Fraud Hotline toll free at 1-877-FRAUD-WV.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.