The charges stem from a meme Mackey posted on Twitter in 2016, jokingly encouraging supporters of Hillary Clinton to vote by text.
The Department of Justice alleged that this constituted election interference, despite being unable to provide evidence that anyone was deceived by the meme. Mackey argued that he was simply trying to create a viral meme, and that other Clinton supporters had posted similar memes encouraging Trump supporters to vote by text without consequence.
An expert witness for the defense withdrew from the trial after being contacted by a reporter from the SPLC.
Federal prosecutors claimed that Mackey worked with fellow meme makers to create the Twitter posts and make them as real as possible.
"This wasn’t about changing votes. This was about vaporizing votes, making them disappear," said Assistant US Attorney Turner Buford.
"The number was real and set up to receive incoming messages," he explained. "The release of these fake campaign ads was timed to flood the internet before Election Day."
Mackey posted the memes on November 1, a week before the election, and Frisch said that the meme’s message was "ludicrous to anyone with a basic knowledge of how presidential elections work," the New York Daily Mail reported.
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