Federal and state prosecutors announced Tuesday that they had charged a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier with attempted fraud for tampering with requests for vote-by-mail absentee ballots.
A joint statement by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell, and Secretary of State Mac Warner said:
Thomas Cooper, 47, of Dry Fork, stands 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,” 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.
According to the affidavit, Cooper admitted to altering some of the requests.
The announcement came at roughly the same time that Twitter assigned a fact check warning to President Donald Trump for his claims that voting by mail was uniquely susceptible to fraud.
It was the first time that Twitter had used such a label with one of Trump’s tweets.
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