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Dry Fork man charged with tampering with West Virginia absentee ballot applications

By Steven Allen Adams

For The Inter-Mountain

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A plot to change the primary party ballot preferences of people filing requests for absentee ballots was uncovered by state and federal investigators with a mail carrier facing charges.

According to Bill Powell, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Thomas Cooper, 47, of Dry Fork, was charged Tuesday with “Attempt to Defraud the Residents of West Virginia of a Fair Election.”

According to the news releases, Cooper held the U.S. Postal Service contract for mail delivery for the towns of Onego, Riverton, and Franklin. Cooper allegedly altered five applications for absentee ballot requests in April, changing the ballot requests from Democratic primary ballots to Republican primary ballots. According to investigators, Cooper admitted to altering the ballots in a sworn affidavit, saying it was a joke.

The Pendleton County Clerk’s Office found that three other absentee ballot applications had been altered as well. The county clerk’s office reported the matter to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office which began the investigation. Warner alerted the public to the possible voter fraud on May 21.

“With an increase in the use of mail-in absentee ballots comes an increase in the obligation to deter voter fraud,” said Secretary of State Mac Warner. “As the state’s chief elections officer, I’d rather see compliance over convictions. The Pendleton County case is a perfect example of how elections officials, law enforcement and the general public can all work together to protect the integrity of our elections. Those who attempt to meddle with our elections will be held accountable.”

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