Manchin, Warner ‘clarify’ Trump assertions of WV ballot tampering

West Virginia

FILE – This May 26, 2020 file photo shows an Official Democratic General Primary mail-in ballot and secrecy envelope, for the Pennsylvania primary in Pittsburgh. Democrats are launching a digital ad targeting Pennsylvanians voting by mail to explain how to correctly fill out and return the ballots, hoping to avert worried predictions that 100,000 votes or more could be invalidated because the ballots aren’t put in the proper envelope. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia election officials, and at least one U.S. Senator, are criticizing a remark made by President Donald Trump in Tuesday night’s presidential debate of “selling the ballots” during the state’s primary election.

While addressing his objections to mail-in voting the President stated “Take a look at West Virginia — mailmen selling the ballots. They’re being sold. They’re being dumped in rivers. This is a horrible thing for our country.”

That prompted West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner Wednesday morning to “clarify” the incident during the primary election where a postal carrier altered absentee ballot applications, not ballots.

Warner described the incident as “a unique circumstance”, saying a county clerk spotted the altered applications and quickly notified the Secretary of State’s office.

“It’s plain wrong that President Trump would mislead Americans to think mail-in voter fraud is happening in West Virginia,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). “There is no widespread voter fraud in West Virginia and any claim to the contrary is false. To suggest anything different is just not true and an attempt to undermine American’s faith in our Democratic process and disparage West Virginia is wrong.”

An investigation into the incident including West Virginia’s U.S. Attorney, the FBI, the West Virginia Attorney General and Secretary of State, West Virginia State Police and others produced a confession from the postal carrier within days.

Thomas Cooper entered a guilty plea to altering the applications in federal court in Elkins on July 9th. Cooper was charged in May after eight mail-in requests for absentee voter ballots had their party affiliations altered.

Warner reiterated that no actual ballots were changed, and praised the state’s 55 county clerks who work to prevent election fraud.

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