West Virginia Mail Carrier Pleads Guilty to Attempted Election Fraud, Officials Say

July 12, 2020 Updated: July 12, 2020

A West Virginia mail carrier pleaded guilty on July 9 to altering requests for absentee voter ballots, after being charged with election fraud and injury to the mail, officials said.

Thomas Cooper was charged in May after eight mail-in requests were tampered with, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell said in a statement. Party affiliations on the ballots were altered, officials said.

In another report, Cooper claimed that he altered the requests “as a joke.”

Cooper, of Dry Creek, had a U.S. Postal Service contract to deliver mail in Pendleton County. But in April 2020, the county clerk discovered “2020 Primary Election COVID-19 Mail-In Absentee Requests” that appeared to have been altered.

“The clerk reported the finding to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office, which began an investigation,” Cooper’s office said. “The 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.”

Cooper was responsible for the delivery of mail to the towns of Onego, Riverton, and Franklin.

He conceded in an interview with Cogar and a postal inspector that he changed some of the requests he picked up from the Onega post office from Democrat to Republican.

According to the affidavit, when he was then asked about the other requests, Cooper said, “I’m not saying no,” but if the requests were picked up along his postal route, “I would take the blame.” Cooper was then asked if he was “just being silly,” and he replied he did it “as a joke” and that he didn’t know those voters, according to The Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.