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DOJ charges 'social media influencer' with 2016 plot to 'deprive individuals of their right to vote'

Individual allegedly tweeted meme urging users to vote by text.

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Dept. of Justice
Dept. of Justice
(Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images)
Updated: January 27, 2021 - 3:16pm

The Biden Justice Department on Wednesday announced that it has charged Florida man in connection with using "various social media platforms" to "disseminate misinformation designed to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote."

The department in a press release said it had charged 31-year-old Douglass Mackey with "election interference" due to his deployment of a meme in 2016 directing users to cast their vote via text. 

Mackey, who in 2018 was identified by Huffington Post as the user behind the infamous alt-right Twitter account Ricky Vaughn – and who regularly used that account to spread antisemitic and racist memes – allegedly advised Twitter users to text their 2016 vote via phone, which the DOJ said in its complaint constituted "criminal infringement of the right to vote."

The specific statute under which Mackey has been charged makes it a crime to "conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person ... in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States."

Mackey faces a maximum 10 years in prison if convicted on the charges.