I'm not familiar with this trial or case.
So I think the guy's downfall was supplying parody information that seemed plausible, namely non existent text numbers in his fake ads. Then, not adding any disclaimer at all.
It's a long shot (like a parsec in length) that a troll ad would turn into a federal crime charge but he left himself totally unprotected.
I believe he is literally f***ed. Unfair, but he made it seem too real.
Even the fine print stays with the joke: "Must be 18 or older to vote..." etc. He should have had SOME disclaimer visible in the graphic such as "you are retard if you believe this".
This gave him no cover whatsoever to claim parody or humor. It was easy to spin IMO to be the form of deliberate misdirection.
Unclear that anyone threw their vote away on this. Did they get complaints from voters? (They should be deported for ignorance BTW.)
If he had not made it look so plausible to the civics un-knowledgeable, the court would not have gotten their legal claws into him in a definitive way. He would have had some alibi, some cover.
Plain phone numbers are always spoofed in entertainment with 555- area codes and prefixes. There's no such convention for spoofed SMS short codes that movies and TV use. You send and pray. If he made up a working 5 digit code there may be no way to know.
Still, draconian and shitty to an absurd degree, like everything else this regime does.