Social media influencer charged in 2016 voter suppression scheme


The Twitter logo is seen on a phone in this photo illustration in Washington, DC, on July 10, 2019. (Photo by Alastair Pike / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — A social media influencer is facing charges after using social media to try to suppress votes in the 2016 presidential election, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Douglas Mackey was arrested in Florida, where he was to appear in court later Wednesday in a federal case filed in New York City. There was no immediate information on whether he had a lawyer to speak on his behalf.

A criminal complaint says that the 31-year-old Mackey, known on the internet as “Ricky Vaughn,” conspired in late 2016 to use Twitter and other social media to try to trick supporters of one of the presidential candidates to vote via text instead of casting an actual ballot.

The complaint alleges that Mackey sent out a tweet with a photo of a Black woman holding a campaign sign and encouraging people to “avoid the line” and “vote from home.” It says there were at least 4,900 responses to the pitch providing a fake text code, including some from people in New York.

At the time, Mackey had 58,000 followers on Twitter, ranking him as an “important influencer” in the upcoming election won by former President Donald Trump, prosecutors said. The complaint did not state which candidate’s supporter’s Mackey targeted, only referring to them as “Candidate 2.”

If convicted of conspiracy charges, Mackey could face up to 10 years in prison.

Read the full complaint:

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