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West Virginia‘s Republican Secretary of State Mac Warner clarified a false claim made by President Trump during Tuesday night’s debate about a mailman who sold ballots, saying that the incident never happened and “voters should be confident that this election will be safe, secure and fair.”
Trump has repeatedly claimed that mail-in ballots are unsafe and fraudulent, and seized on the talking point during the testy debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday.
Trump claimed a West Virginia mail worker was “selling ballots” and the ballots were “being dumped in rivers.”
“There is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen,” Trump said.
Warner issued a statement Wednesday clarifying that the incident never happened and that there has been only one case of election fraud in the state to date, and that was after a postal carrier altered absentee ballot applications, not ballots.
The mail carrier was charged in May and admitted to altering the party affiliations on eight mail-in requests for absentee voter ballots ahead of the state’s primary elections.
The state’s Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin denounced Trump’s claims saying: “There is no widespread voter fraud in West Virginia and any claim to the contrary is false,” he said in a written statement, CBS reported.
Trump’s falsehood comes at a time where mail-in ballots will likely be used in record numbers this election season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Still, Warner said that he shares the president’s concern over the potential for increased election fraud with the increase in absentee voting but added his state is working on mitigating those risks to deter, investigate and prosecute those who would attempt to cheat.
“We have conducted extensive training with clerks and election officials, covering everything from cyber security, to continuity of operations, to preventing and detecting fraud,” Warner said.
“This was a prime example of a dedicated clerk, closely watching her election process, and quickly reporting an anomaly as she had been trained to do. The system worked, and we were able to rapidly assure the voters of West Virginia that the election was secure,” he added.