WV Secretary of State speaks on voter fraud in Pendleton County

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Nadette Cheney

In this April 14, 2020 photo, Nadette Cheney picks up a box of printed ballots as others work on preparing mail-in ballots at the Lancaster County Election Committee offices in Lincoln, Neb. Officials in Nebraska are forging ahead with plans for the state’s May 12 primary despite calls from Democrats to only offer voting by mail and concerns from public health officials that in-person voting will help the coronavirus spread. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner credits a collaborative effort of both state and federal officials for being able to prevent a recent voter fraud attempt in Pendleton County.

The case of voter fraud involved a Randolph County mail carrier who submitted eight fraudulently altered absentee ballot requests to the Pendleton County Clerk’s office. Warner said the clerk and her deputy were astute, noticed the irregularities and quickly got in touch with the state’s Voter Fraud Task Force. Warner said he is “very proud” of how the situation was handled even though it was an unfortunate event.

“We got with the task force,” Warner said. “The task force that has been formed here in West Virginia is between my office, the Secretary of State’s Office, the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, then the U.S. Attornies from both the northern and southern districts of West Virginia, so now you’re talking both state and federal officials, the FBI and the state police,” Warner said.

Because the criminal activity involved the postal system, the U.S. Postal Service is also involved, Warner said. He said the resolution of the case was “very quick” and that everybody should feel comfortable because the case is currently being pursued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Sec. Mac Warner

The message to the West Virginia voters is that all of us take election security very seriously. The integrity of the elections is paramount and if there any irregularities noticed they will be investigated and prosecuted if there’s sufficient evidence to go forward. It is a system that is working.

Mac Warner – WV Secretary of State

Behavior that amounts to criminal activity may seem innocent, Warner said, so that is why as the chief election officer in West Virginia he feels it is important to educate the public about what types of behavior are considered fraudulent.

For example, Warner said, if somebody shows up to an apartment complex or senior citizen’s home to collect ballots under the guise of helping submit them to the post office or the county clerk, it might not be an innocent gesture. He said it is illegal for anyone to submit more than two ballots during any election cycle.

The law was designed for spouses to submit each others’ ballots if the other were busy. Anything beyond submitting two ballots is known as ballot harvesting and is illegal under West Virginia law, Warner said.

Other forms of illegal behavior include voter intimidation, coercion and manipulation, Warner said.

“This education campaign to notify people of what kind of fraud might occur in this election,” Warner said. “With the increased use of absentee ballots gives increased opportunities for these types of irregularities to occur. That’s why we formed a task force, that’s why we encourage people to call us at 877-FRAUD-WV so that we can investigate and make sure that this is a clean and fair election in West Virginia.”

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