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Influencer in Florida Commits Voter Fraud
Influencer in Florida Accused of Voter Fraud
A February 2016 analysis by MIT Media Lab revealed that Twitter account “Ricky Vaughn” was the 107th most important influencer in the then-upcoming election. That’s a higher ranking than many other groups and individuals like NBC News (114), Stephen Colbert (119), and Newt Gingrich (141). Everyone had one question: Who in the world is Ricky Vaughn? As it turns out, the Florida man was really stepping up his game. Douglass Mackey, aka Ricky Vaughn, is based in West Palm Beach and gained an audience on Twitter with over 58,000 followers by 2016. Many would describe him as an internet troll, or someone who posts hurtful comments for his own amusement. He’s posted anti-Semitic memes in the past, but those offenses were hardly illegal. That changed when Mackey allegedly went too far.
Using hashtags like #go[candidate], Mackey posted false, edited campaign images to convince people to “vote” by text instead of going to the polls or using the mail-in ballot. In one instance, he posted an image depicting an African American woman holding a sign, reading “African Americans for [candidate].” The images would then include instructions on how to vote by texting a specific number. Mackey and his associates also created images with Spanish instructions, obviously targeting minorities as well. Of course, voting by text is not a legitimate way to cast a ballot, yet the deceptive campaign duped over 4,900 unique phone numbers. William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, reported in their press release, “Protecting every American citizen’s right to cast a legitimate vote is a key to the success of our republic. What Mackey allegedly did to interfere with this process — by soliciting voters to cast their ballots via text — amounted to nothing short of vote theft.” It’s certainly fascinating and terrifying to see just how influential social media can be on an election and even go as far as to lure people into wasting their vote. We’re glad, however, to see these types of cases being brought to court — Mackey was recently arrested on federal charges of election interference for this 2016 voter disinformation campaign. Some influencers are taking their title much too seriously!
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