A mail carrier in Virginia’s Pendleton County has pleaded guilty to election fraud, reportedly altering the party affiliation on absentee ballot requests, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Thomas Cooper, the mail carrier who had a U.S. Postal Service contract to deliver mail in Virginia’s Pendleton County, pleaded guilty to one count of “Attempt to Defraud the Residents of West Virginia of a Fair Election” and one count of “Injury to the Mail” after altering the party affiliation on at least five absentee ballot request forms.
“In April 2020, the Clerk of Pendleton County received ‘2020 Primary Election COVID-19 Mail-In Absentee Request’ forms from eight voters on which the voter’s party-ballot request appeared to have been altered,” the DOJ announced.
“The investigation found five ballot requests that had been altered from ‘Democrat” to “Republican,'” the DOJ said.
The clerk reportedly knew some of the voters were not Republicans and contacted the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office, which launched the investigation.
While the party was not changed on the three remaining ballots, the request “had been altered,” the DOJ affirmed:
Cooper was responsible for the mail delivery of the three towns from which the tampered requests were mailed: Onego, Riverton, and Franklin, West Virginia. Cooper admitted today to altering some of the requests.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen D. Warner is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General investigated.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael John Aloi presided.
Cooper reportedly told investigators he did it “as a joke.”
“[I] don’t even know them,” he said, according to the complaint.
Scott Curnutte, Cooper’s attorney, told BuzzFeed News that Cooper is “deeply sorry for the implications for our democratic process.”
“It should be remembered, however, that the mail he altered were requests for ballots, not ballots themselves,” he added.
The news comes as the GOP — and President Trump — continue to warn of the potential consequences of widespread vote-by-mail, which they say exponentially increases the risk for voter fraud.
A dead cat recently made waves after receiving a voter registration form by mail in Georgia, as Breitbart News reported.