Spanish-language YouTube channels are promoting skepticism about midterm tabulation efforts – with no content moderation or election labels from YouTube. Channels have spread misleading narratives about voting machines, mail-in ballots, and “late” election results.
Media Matters has previously reported on YouTube’s failure to take down election fraud misinformation in Spanish related to the 2020 presidential election, despite the fact that the platform has explicit election misinformation policies that prohibit such debunked claims. Notably, the platform has not added the 2022 U.S. midterms to its list of elections in which users cannot spread false claims of “widespread fraud, errors, or glitches.”
YouTube’s inadequate election integrity policy has allowed videos insinuating fraud on the platform in the days leading up to and following Election Day 2022. Media Matters has identified videos on Spanish YouTube suggesting fraud due to “late” election results or featuring misleading claims about hundreds of thousands of unverified mail-in ballots – claims which are not explicitly prohibited from the platform due to the omission of the 2022 midterms from YouTube’s election misinformation policies.
Additionally, YouTube claimed that it would add “information panels beneath videos” as well as having “election results below videos” on Election Day. None of these labels, or any labels for that matter, were found on the Spanish-language videos that Media Matters has identified.
While some of the videos below do not explicitly tout election fraud in the 2022 midterms, they use suggestive language to promote or cast doubts on the election results, which ultimately undermines the integrity of U.S. elections.
Misinformative or misleading claims about midterm elections
- Radio host and right-wing Spanish-language media personality Dania Alexandrino posted a video suggesting that Democrats are trying to “steal the election” by extending voting tabulation times. After noting on Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s comments on potential delays in ballot counting, Alexandrino said, “Maybe they are already giving us clues that they are going to extend and draw out the results to see where they can steal them” and continued shortly thereafter that U.S. elections resemble “Banana Republics and third world countries,” adding, “This is a mockery to the intelligence of the people.” [Translated from Spanish, YouTube, 11/07, 11/07]
- Alexandrino also claimed that there were many irregularities and examples of fraud in Maricopa County during the midterm elections as well as in the 2020 elections, blaming broken voting machines in Maricopa and an “electrocuted poll worker” in Illinois. Alexandrino stated, “When Kari Lake wins... she has to fire the Maricopa County supervisor of elections because that's where there were all the irregularities and all the mess in 2020 was and the one from yesterday as well… So many people think that fraud started there because of all the irregularities that there were yesterday in Maricopa County. I think in Illinois a poll worker got electrocuted and they ended up closing the polling place. There were different districts in Maricopa County where the machines were not working and it was sending people to other places. So the reality of the case is that there were irregularities." [Translated from Spanish, YouTube, 11/09]
- Brezner Studios, a right-wing YouTube channel with over 123,000 followers, also echoed misleading claims from a letter sent by Republican politicians alleging that 249,000 mail-in ballots were unverified and should not be counted unless the voters provide a valid ID. This was part of a misleading claim peddled by Republican politicians that ignores Pennsylvania’s ID verification process, which allows voters to verify their IDs “at several different points in the voting process.” Host Brezner Mejia Mendoza said, “Based on data from October 2 to October 21, 2022, a staggering 240,000 ballots are unverified. That's a huge number of ballots that, according to the law, must be reserved and not counted for the 2022 general election unless the voter presents identification, the letter states.” [Translated from Spanish, YouTube, 11/09, 11/09]
- Brezner Studios also echoed the claim that Democrats believe that fighting voter suppression means leaving open drop boxes where people can cast unrestricted ballots. Then, Mendoza echoed a claim from the election conspiracy theory film 2,000 Mules in which “multiple ballots” were cast “after hours.” He said in the video, “It's important to keep in mind that for Democrats, the idea of voter suppression means you would have open mailboxes where people would be allowed to go and cast ballots without restriction, Sessions said, noting that in the movie 2000 Mules he was very pointed about the number of people who came in after hours with multiple ballots.” [Translated from Spanish, YouTube, 10/31]
- Brezner Studios also amplified former President Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen, and celebrated the court’s decision to invalidate midterm ballots that are incorrectly dated. Specifically, Mendoza referred to Trump’s false claims that a Pennsylvania court ruled the 2020 presidential elections had been rigged, but that the election results could not be reversed. He further celebrated the court’s decision to invalidate midterm ballots that are undated or incorrectly dated in the state. A Pennsylvania Court recently ordered counties to refrain from counting absentee or mail-in ballots without accurate dates on the return envelope, a rule that did not apply in 2020. Nevertheless, the Pennsylvania court’s decision did not determine the 2020 presidential election to be in any way rigged or stolen. [Translated from Spanish, YouTube, 11/06, 11/07]
- Agustin Laje, a right-wing social media figure, told his viewers that he “can't say certain things on YouTube” and suggested his viewers try to “read between the lines” or go to Twitter for midterm information. Then Laje used suggestive rhetoric to refer to a “little problem” with voting machines in Arizona. Laje said, “Now, this is where you have to read between the lines... Word has it that there's been a little bit of trouble over there in Arizona. With some machines. Some complaints. But don't get the wrong idea. This system is the best. This system is totally clean. There is no doubt about it. Please, do not go to launch fake news or say absolutely nothing against the system, because the system is very good. Well, the system is wonderful. It works and it works and it's clean. This system is totally clean." [Translated from Spanish, YouTube, 11/08]
- César Vidal, a conspiracy theory channel, uploaded a video where he claimed that delays in ballot tabulation in key states that Biden won in 2020 is causing anxiety in millions of Americans who suspect that Democrats will win the states through voter fraud. Vidal also claimed that Democratic victories in the midterms would ensure the advancement of a “globalist agenda.” [Translated from Spanish, YouTube, 11/09]