Douglass Mackey was convicted of election interference in a New York federal court Friday in a case involving 2016 social media posts inaccurately claiming people could cast votes via texting.
"Mackey has been found guilty by a jury of his peers of attempting to deprive individuals from exercising their sacred right to vote for the candidate of their choice in the 2016 Presidential Election," stated Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
"Today’s verdict proves that the defendant’s fraudulent actions crossed a line into criminality and flatly rejects his cynical attempt to use the constitutional right of free speech as a shield for his scheme to subvert the ballot box and suppress the vote," Peace also said.
Mackey, age 33, is also known as "Ricky Vaughn." He faces up to 10 years in prison after a federal jury agreed Mackey's rights to freedom of speech did not extend to attempts to deprive others of their right to vote.
"We are optimistic about our chances on appeal," Mackey's attorney, Andrew Frisch said in an email to Politico.
Mackey, who testified in his own defense, called the posts hyperbole, according to the Wall Street Journal. Prosecutors confronted him about the "racist and misogynist posts," saying they showed he "intended to target black and women voters."
In September and November prior to the 2016 election, Mackey and other "influential Twitter users ... use[d] social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages that encouraged supporters of candidate Hillary Clinton to 'vote' via text message or social media which, in reality, was legally invalid."
One post featured an image of a black woman standing in front of an "African Americas for Hillary" sign. The post also contained text stating "Avoid the line. Vote from Home," "Text 'Hillary' to 59925," and "Vote for Hillary and be a part of history."
The inaccurate posts' text also included "#ImWithHer," a hashtag associated with the Clinton campaign. An additional tweet in Spanish featured an image of a person typing into her cellphone. That image used a font similar to that used by the Clinton campaign and included the campaign's logo.
At least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted "Hillary" or something similar to the number in Mackey's post, the Washington Post reported.
At the time, Mackey's Twitter profile, had about 58,000 followers. The MIT Media Lab ranked the account as the 107th most important influencer of the then-upcoming presidential race between former President Donald Trump and then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
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