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By Tony Perkins

YouTube is actively preventing Pennsylvania voters from casting informed ballots in the upcoming primary election. That’s the only conclusion to draw from YouTube’s decision over the weekend to remove a candidate forum hosted by the Pennsylvania Family Institute (PFI). “YouTube offered no specifics of what is alleged to be in violation, beyond indicating that it had to do with content related to the 2020 Presidential election,” said PFI President Michael Geer. “That election was not mentioned in our questions, and we can only conclude that the YouTube censors did not like the answers given by one or more of the candidates.”

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Candidate forums play a critical role in our political process by providing candidates with equal and comparable platforms to make their cases to the electorate. They serve to inform voters and illustrate contrasts between candidates which can aid voters in choosing who to vote for. Candidate forums serve no purpose unless they expose viewers to opinions that contrast, even opinions that are wrong, on the issues that matter most.

Fortunately, the forum was also broadcast on radio, and the audio file has not been censored. Candidates were asked, “with reason-free mail-in ballots and a very active Pennsylvania Supreme Court, what would you do as governor to fix or restore election integrity and the confidence of Pennsylvania voters?” Moderators explained that they included a question on election integrity because radio listeners indicated the topic was one of pressing interest.

The irony of YouTube censoring this discussion is that it has committed the error they claim to oppose—threatening our election-based system of government. Most conservatives (with a few, notable exceptions) understand that the 2020 election is not the hill to die on. Whatever controversy remains or whatever illegalities were perpetrated, it’s too late now to go back and undo the 2020 election. But we can and we must work to ensure the integrity of future elections. Now, in the name of not reliving the 2020 election, YouTube is interfering with the 2022 election by blocking voters from informing themselves on where the candidates stand on the issues that matter to them.

Even from YouTube’s perspective, censoring a candidate forum discussing election integrity is counter-productive. Let’s briefly assume, for the sake of argument, that one or more of the seven GOP gubernatorial candidates who participated in the forum did advance wild and unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. Their irrational position would then be seen for what it is, compared with the reasonable positions of the other candidates. Additionally, voters would be given the chance to reject the crazy positions in favor of more grounded candidates. But, due to YouTube’s decision to censor the forum altogether, many voters are left in the dark, unaware of whether the candidates they might vote for hold reasonable or unreasonable positions on election integrity. YouTube’s censorship of issues of controversy such as election integrity only fuels conspiracy theories and general distrust.

YouTube censors have always practiced viewpoint discrimination (certain viewpoints are accepted, while others are forbidden), but now they are attempting to dictate which policy issues gubernatorial candidates are allowed to discuss. A candidate forum posted only the day before PFI’s forum remains available to watch, because it discussed business, not election integrity. Campaigns often live or die based upon their ability to promote the winning issues. If YouTube can control which topics candidates are allowed to discuss, they can control elections.

While the Left virtue signals about preserving “democracy” in Ukraine, they’re pummeling it here at home. YouTube’s censorship is “a blatant assault on free speech,” Geer warned. “It hinders the process of democracy, shuts down the free marketplace of ideas, and ironically, further erodes confidence in our elections.”

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