A West Virginia mail carrier has been charged in a criminal complaint with attempted election fraud for allegedly tampering with ballots in the mail according to an announcement from the state’s Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
Thomas Cooper, a mail carrier in Pendleton County, is charged with “Attempt to Defraud the Residents of West Virginia of a Fair Election.”
According to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, Cooper held a U.S. Postal Service contract to deliver mail in Pendleton County, West Virginia. The Clerk of Pendleton County received “2020 Primary Election COVID-19 Mail-In Absentee Request” forms from eight voters last month on which the voter’s party-ballot request appeared to have been altered.
An investigation found five ballot requests that had been altered from “Democrat” to “Republican.” On three other requests, the party wasn’t changed, but the request had been altered.
According to the affidavit, Cooper admitted to altering some of the requests, but said it was a joke.
West Virginia MetroNews reported that Bennie Cogar, the investigator with the West Virginia Attorney General’s office, said in the affidavit, “Had Cooper’s conduct not been detected, it would have caused the Clerk to give Republican ballots to 5 Democrat voters — skewing the primary election by 5 votes and thereby defrauding all West Virginians of a fair election.”
The news outlet also reported that the ballots appeared to have been altered using black pen which is what triggered the investigation.
The manipulated ballots will not have an impact on the election, however, according to West Virginia news station WTRF.
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.