MAGA Voter Suppression: Twitter Troll Tricked 4,900 Democrats in Vote-by-Phone Scheme, U.S. Says
These criminal acts of voter suppression took place in 2016 and were investigated in 2017. Although the article does not say so, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the four year delay in bringing criminal charges is yet another grotesque example of the political weaponization of the US Justice Department during the Twitter years.
Douglass Mackey, a right-wing provocateur, was accused of spreading memes that made Hillary Clinton supporters falsely believe they could cast ballots in 2016 via text message.
A man who was known as a far-right Twitter troll was arrested on Wednesday and charged with spreading disinformation online that tricked Democratic voters in 2016 into trying to cast their ballots by phone instead of going to the polls.
Federal prosecutors accused Douglass Mackey, 31, of coordinating with co-conspirators to spread memes on Twitter falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton’s supporters could vote by sending a text message to a specific phone number.
The co-conspirators were not named in the complaint, but one of them was Anthime Gionet, a far-right media personality known as “Baked Alaska,” who was arrested this month for participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to a person briefed on the investigation.
As a result of the misinformation campaign, prosecutors said, at least 4,900 unique phone numbers texted the number in a futile effort to cast votes for Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Mackey was arrested on Wednesday morning in West Palm Beach, Fla., in what appeared to be the first criminal case in the country involving voter suppression through the spread of disinformation on Twitter. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
In 2018, Mr. Mackey was revealed to be the operator of a Twitter account using the pseudonym Ricky Vaughn, which boosted former President Donald J. Trump while spreading anti-Semitic and white nationalist propaganda.
Mr. Mackey’s account had such a large following that it made the M.I.T. Media Lab’s list of the top 150 influencers in the 2016 election, ranking ahead of the Twitter accounts for NBC News, Drudge Report and CBS News.
Mr. Mackey faces an unusual charge: conspiracy to violate rights, which makes it illegal for people to conspire to “oppress” or “intimidate” anyone from exercising a constitutional right, such as voting.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.