West Virginia Secretary of State thanks Voter Fraud Task Force for quick work

Voter turnout increased among young voters and at college precincts. | Credit: WHSV
Voter turnout increased among young voters and at college precincts. | Credit: WHSV(WHSV)
Published: May. 28, 2020 at 5:43 PM EDT
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The Chief Election Officer for the Mountain State said he is very pleased with how quickly the Voter Fraud Task Force was able to work in identifying the mail carrier who allegedly changed information on eight voters' absentee ballot applications.

This week, the Department of Justice announced a federal charge against 47-year-old Thomas Cooper for

in West Virginia.

Cooper, a mail carrier, has been charged with one count of “Attempt to Defraud the Residents of West Virginia of a Fair Election."

According to U.S. Attorney Bill Powell, Cooper, from Dry Fork, W.Va., held a U.S. Postal Service contract to deliver mail in Pendleton County and was specifically responsible for delivery to Onego, Riverton, and Franklin, the three towns from which tampered requests were discovered.

against Cooper alleges that the Pendleton County clerk, who was going through the process of approving hundreds of absentee voter requests after West Virginia

noticed eight forms that had been delivered to the Pendleton County Courthouse that appeared to have had the voters' party-ballot requests altered.

Secretary of State Mac Warner said with help from West Virginia's Attorney General's Office, federal officials, the FBI, and State Police, Cooper was identified quickly.

"The real value is to let people know that this task force exists, it does work if they do cooperate," Secretary Warner said. "They even brought a U.S postal inspector in, so multiple agencies working together, and the proof is in the pudding."

Secretary Warner said although this was an isolated incident and not evidence of any sort of widespread fraud, voters should still stay alert this election season, and especially those who are voting absentee.

"If you feel pressured, if someone says, 'hey, let's get together and go down to the church or the union hall,' and they say, 'let's make sure the ballots are filled out properly.' It may be more than just regular campaigning or helpful advice," Secretary Warner said. "It could an intimidation or a coercion opportunity. If that is happening, please let us know. "

Secretary Warner said it's important that Cooper was caught to make an example and make sure no one else tries to interfere with the state's elections in any way.

He said if you see any suspicious activity to call 877-FRAUD-WV to report it to an investigator.