A mail carrier who allegedly altered a small number of applications for absentee ballots in Pendleton County has been charged with a federal crime, according to a news release from the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office.
Thomas Cooper, 47, admitted to investigators he changed the party affiliation of the applicant from Democrat to Republican on ballot applications from one family, according to the affidavit.
An elections official in Pendleton County noticed the markings on the applications and called the family, as they knew some family members were not Republican, according to the affidavit. One of the family members said the four had requested Democrat ballots, and submitted the application with a blue-ink pen; Cooper allegedly altered the requests with a black-ink pen.
Eight ballot applications were questioned by the clerk and investigators, but Cooper admitted to altering four, according to the affidavit. For the other four ballots, Cooper told investigators “I’m not saying no … [but] if it was on my route, I would take the blame.”
“You were just being silly?” an investigator asked.
“Yeah… [I did it] as a joke … [I] don’t even know them,” Cooper replied, according to the affidavit.
Cooper was charged with attempting to defraud the residents of West Virginia of a fair election, according to the criminal complaint filed in the Northern District of West Virginia.
“Manipulating one’s absentee ballot or application is not a laughing matter — it’s a federal offense,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in the release. “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.”