In West Virginia, a postman pleaded guilty to tampering with mail-in requests for absentee ballots, highlighting a controversial issue months before the presidential election.
Thomas Cooper was charged for changing mail in requests from the original party affiliation. U.S. Attorney Bill Powell said he attempted election fraud and injury to the mail. The secretary of state’s office found five of the ballot requests had changed from Democrat to Republican, while on three the word “Republican” was circled in black ink, different from the original blue ink check mark next to the party name.
While some states enforce restrictions on crowds and gatherings, absentee ballots have been encouraged as the voting method in 2020. This has sparked backlash from President Trump, who argues the ability for voter fraud will greatly increase if this happens, and it is an avenue for the Democrats to steal the election. Furthermore, as thousands have gathered to protest after the death of George Floyd, elected officials are pointing to the hypocrisy of allowing those types of crowds, but not discouraging people to vote in person.
Why this matters: The example of Thomas Cooper proves the vulnerability of absentee ballots. Not being able to vote in-person in November will most likely lead to court cases, as well as the candidates contesting the election results. An election while on lock down will have tremendous, long-term effects, and this issue will continue to arise up until November.