ELKINS, W.Va. – A Randolph County mail carrier has pleaded guilty to voter fraud.

Thomas Cooper, 47, a mail carrier in Pendleton County, has admitted to attempted election fraud, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.

Cooper, of Dryfork, 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. Cooper held a U.S. Postal Service contract to deliver mail in Pendleton County. 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, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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

Cooper was responsible for the mail delivery of the three towns from which the tampered requests were mailed: Onego, Riverton and Franklin. Cooper admitted Thursday to altering some of the requests, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Secretary of State Mac Warner provided statements on Thursday’s proceedings.

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“News of the guilty plea underscores the strength of our case. Our team remains committed to protecting the integrity of elections in West Virginia. Our citizens deserve nothing less.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

“In West Virginia every vote counts and those that attempt to disrupt our democratic processes will be held accountable for their actions. I am greatly pleased with outcome of the Election Fraud Task Force’s effort to investigate and proceed with prosecution expeditiously to obtain a guilty plea of absentee balloting fraud.”

Secretary of State Mac Warner