Douglass Mackey, 31, of West Palm Beach, established a Twitter account in 2016. He then conspired, according to a criminal complaint, with others to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate supporters of a presidential candidate to vote via text message or social media, which are both legally invalid methods of voting.
In one example, Mackey is accused of tweeting an image featuring a black woman standing in front of a sign stating “African Americans for [the Candidate].” The image included instructions to “Avoid the Line” and “Vote from Home” by texting the candidate’s name to a number.
The image falsely stated that it was paid for by the candidate’s campaign, according to authorities.
Mackey, also known as Ricky Vaughn, was the 107th most important influencer leading up to the 2016 election, according to the MIT Media Lab.
It wasn’t clear whether Mackey had retained an attorney.
In a statement announcing the arrest, acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas McQuaid said, “This indictment underscores the department’s commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who would undermine citizens’ voting rights.”
“There is no place in public discourse for lies and misinformation to defraud citizens of their right to vote,” added Seth DuCharme, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “With Mackey’s arrest, we serve notice that those who would subvert the democratic process in this manner cannot rely on the cloak of Internet anonymity to evade responsibility for their crimes. They will be investigated, caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”