A salmon colored photo with the Heritage Foundation logo and a voting booth overlayed over the top
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Right-wing media figures are citing a Spanish-language flyer of dubious origin as evidence that Democrats are importing new voters to “rig” elections

Right-wing figures — and even some GOP politicians — shared social media posts from the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project that pushed dubious claims about Spanish-language flyers in Mexico, which they claimed were encouraging asylum-seekers to vote for President Joe Biden once they arrive in the United States. In reality, there are virtually no cases of noncitizens voting in U.S. elections, and the flyer's origins are questionable.

  • The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project shared a dubious flyer instructing migrants to vote for Biden, saying it was found at a resource center in Mexico

    • Citing right-wing site Muckraker.com, the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project posted an image of a Spanish-language flyer allegedly found at a humanitarian aid center in Matamoras, Mexico, and claimed that it asked asylum-seekers to “vote for President Biden when you are in the United States.” The dubious flyer appears to be printed on a Resource Center Matamoros letterhead and offers asylum-seekers legal help through its partner organization, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. After describing the services it offers, the letter seemingly veers into the political: “Reminder to vote for President Biden when you are in the U.S. We need four more years of his mandate to remain open.” The Oversight Project also provided video purporting to show the flyers posted in nearby port-a-potties. [Twitter/X, 4/15/24, 4/15/24]
    • Resource Center Matamoros founder Gaby Zavala told The Associated Press that she did not know who made the flyer and that her aid organization “does not encourage immigrants to register to vote or cast ballots in the U.S.” The AP's analysis of the flyer noted that it “contained errors in spelling and grammar, and appeared to include verbatim paragraphs from the organization’s English-language website that were translated into Spanish using online translation software." [The Associated Press, 4/17/24]
    • Even Fox News national correspondent Bill Melugin said he was “extremely skeptical” of the flyer, which he said “appears to be a word for word Google Translate copy & paste of a portion of the NGO's English website, with ‘vote for Biden’ randomly added in at the end.” [Twitter/X, 4/16/24, 4/16/24]
  • Even though there are virtually no cases of noncitizens voting in U.S. elections, right-wing media figures have repeatedly claimed otherwise

    • Echoing the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, right-wing media figures have repeatedly argued that Democrats are importing migrants to vote for them in forthcoming elections. Over the past decade, right-wing media have increasingly adopted hard-line anti-immigrant rhetoric, characterizing migrants and asylum-seekers as dangerous “invaders” who will “replace” white voters. [Media Matters, 3/4/24, 1/31/24, 1/12/24, 1/8/24]
    • Instances of noncitizens voting in elections are extremely rare. A 2016 study conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice found only 30 instances of suspected noncitizen voting out of 23.5 million ballots recorded across 42 jurisdictions. Additionally, a report from The Hill found that Heritage Foundation’s own “Election Fraud Database” showed only 50 instances of suspected noncitizen voting. The libertarian Cato Institute has also noted that “noncitizens don’t illegally vote in detectable numbers.” [The Hill, 4/11/24; Brennan Center for Justice, 4/12/24; Cato Institute, 11/25/20; Heritage Foundation, accessed 4/19/24]
  • After The Heritage Foundation shared the flyer, right-wing figures shared it across social media and spread unfounded claims that Democrats are using migrants to rig elections

    • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk read an excerpt from the dubious flyer, arguing that it sought “to prey on illegals and encourage them to illegally vote.” He also claimed that Democrats are “done with U.S. citizens,” and asked, “Is the get out the vote operation now multi-country?” [Real America’s Voice, The Charlie Kirk Show, 4/17/24]
    • Right-wing social media figure Rogan O’Handley — known online as “DC_Draino” — suggested that the flyer was proof that “illegal aliens are voting in American elections” and that “there’s a whole machine instructing them on how to do it.” O'handley went on to allege that “this is the real ‘threat to our democracy’” and “they’re trying to replace American voters.” [Twitter/X, 4/15/24]
    • Anti-LGBTQ account Libs of TikTok used the flyer to bemoan a so-called lack of voter ID laws. In response to the Oversight Project post, the account posted, “But I was informed just a few days ago that we don’t need a law requiring proof of US citizenship to vote because illegals can’t vote… .” [Twitter/X, 4/15/24; Media Matters, 3/15/24]
    • Right-wing social media figure Catturd shared the Oversight Project’s post along with a comment: “Treason!” [Twitter/X, 4/16/24]
    • Right-wing influencers the Hodgetwins: “They are trying to rig 2024 bigger than 2020.” [Twitter/X, 4/15/24]
    • Fox News contributor Miranda Devine said the flyer was “proof of our suspicions that the Biden administration has brought in millions of illegal aliens deliberately to steal the next election.” Devine also claimed that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was “in the thick of it.” [Twitter/X, 4/16/24]
    • Right-wing social media account End Wokeness focused on the supposed connections between the resource center and billionaire philanthropist and right-wing boogeyman George Soros. The post claimed that the resource center “has ties to both DHS Secretary Mayorkas and George Soros,” who are both Jewish. [Twitter/X, 4/15/24; Media Matters, 12/5/23; The New York Times, 4/4/23]
    • TheBlaze’s Logan Hall reposted the flyer, commenting that a “sacred democracy cheat code” is to “import a new voting bloc” to secure “permanent one-party rule.” [Twitter/X, 4/16/24]
  • Some Republican lawmakers also spread the unverified flyer, with some using it to attack Biden's supposed “open border policies”

    • In response to the Oversight Project post, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) claimed, “They are going to steal the election with illegal votes.” She added, “This is why the Biden admin is keeping the border open.”  [Twitter/X, 4/16/24]
    • Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) shared the flyer and commented that “encouraging people in this country illegally to vote … invites foreign nationals to meddle in our elections.” “Exercising the right to vote is one reserved exclusively for American citizens, not illegal aliens unlawfully in our country,” she wrote. “Encouraging people in this country illegally to vote is not only a direct violation of U.S. law but invites foreign nationals to meddle in our elections.” [Twitter/X, 4/17/24]
    • In a response to the Oversight Project post, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) called for Mayorkas’ impeachment, writing, “Biden’s open border policies are not only undermining our national sovereignty but also our elections. IMPEACH MAYORKAS! SECURE THE BORDER!” [Twitter/X, 4/16/24]