BREAKING: Twitter user Douglass Mackey sentenced to 7 months in prison after being found guilty of election interference for making memes disparaging Hillary Clinton

There was no evidence to suggest that any voter attempted to cast their ballot via text in response to Mackey's meme.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY
Meme-maker Douglass Mackey was sentenced in the Eastern District Court of New York on criminal charges on Wednesday after a March conviction for conspiracy against rights, ie election interference, over memes he created during the 2016 presidential election that disparaged Hillary Clinton. 

Mackey was sentenced to 7 months in prison for the crime of making memes the DOJ didn't think were funny. A fundraiser has been launched for his ongoing legal defense.

The case was heard in the US Court of the Eastern District of New York. Mackey, who was known as Ricky Vaughn on Twitter, was found guilty of the federal charge after making memes that jokingly encouraged Hillary Clinton supporters to cast their votes via text mesage. This is not actually a viable form of voting, which Mackey, and everyone else, knew. There was no evidence to suggest that any voter attempted to cast their ballot via text in response to Mackey's meme.

"Tomorrow at 1130am," said one supporter, "Doug Mackey will be sentenced in an NYC courtroom on a sham “conspiracy” conviction for sharing an anti-Hillary meme, all thanks to a bunch of lies and half-truths spewed by a morbidly obese fed informant who goes by the name Microchip."

The meme that Mackey was convicted of disseminating was directed at Hillary Clinton voters, but other memes, also instructing people to vote for president via text, were distributed by social media users telling people to cast their vote for Trump via text. Mackey was convicted while no one else was even charged.

The case is, as the New York Times reported at the time, was "the first criminal case in the country involving voter suppression through the spread of disinformation on Twitter." 

The DOJ claimed that the meme from Mackey constituted election interference, and the court agreed, despite their being no evidence to support the notion that anyone who saw the meme was deceived by it. 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. 

"The complaint," the DOJ said in 2021, "alleges that in 2016, Mackey established an audience on Twitter with approximately 58,000 followers."

The DOJ alleged that "Mackey was sending tweets suggesting the importance of limiting 'black turnout,' the defendant tweeted an image depicting an African American woman standing in front of an 'African Americans for Hillary' sign. The ad stated: 'Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,' 'Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925,' and 'Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.'"

The DOJ, apparently having no sense of humor, took further issue with Mackey's jokes, saying "The fine print at the bottom of the deceptive image stated: 'Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by Hillary For President 2016.'  The tweet included the typed hashtag '#ImWithHer,' a slogan frequently used by Hillary Clinton. On or about and before Election Day 2016, at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted 'Hillary' or some derivative to the 59925 text number, which had been used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by Mackey and his co-conspirators."

"Mackey has been found guilty by a jury of his peers of attempting to deprive individuals from exercising their sacred right to vote for the candidate of their choice in the 2016 Presidential Election," stated United States Attorney Peace at the time. "Today’s verdict proves that the defendant’s fraudulent actions crossed a line into criminality and flatly rejects his cynical attempt to use the constitutional right of free speech as a shield for his scheme to subvert the ballot box and suppress the vote."

"As alleged in the complaint, between September 2016 and November 2016, in the lead up to Nov. 8, 2016, U.S. Presidential Election, Mackey conspired with others to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages designed to encourage supporters of one of the presidential candidates (the 'Candidate') to 'vote' via text message or social media, a legally invalid method of voting," the DOJ stated, describing the meme.

"According to the allegations in the complaint, the defendant exploited a social media platform to infringe one the of most basic and sacred rights guaranteed by the Constitution: the right to vote," said Nicholas L. McQuaid, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. "This complaint underscores the department’s commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who would undermine citizens’ voting rights."

Mackey posted the memes on November 1, 2016, one week before the election. The prosecution could not provide any evidence of harm. Donald Trump has also been charged with conspiracy against rights in the Biden DOJ's case agaisnt him over the Capitol riot of January 6.
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