False claims and conspiracy theories about voting and the election process swirled on social media as Americans cast their ballots on Tuesday.
The disinformation was driven by Republicans. Former President Donald Trump and other prominent right-wing figures seized on technical problems in some key states to baselessly suggest there had been intentional malfeasance. Trump also made a baseless claim of mass voter fraud.
Here is a look at some of the early false and misleading claims. This article will be updated as CNN fact-checks additional claims.
With no evidence, Trump floats the possibility of mass voter fraud in the midterms
Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely alleged that there was mass voter fraud in the 2020 election, baselessly suggested on social media on Tuesday that such fraud might be happening in the 2022 midterms.
“Same thing is happening with Voter Fraud as happened in 2020???” the former president wrote Tuesday afternoon on his Truth Social platform.
There was no evidence of widespread or outcome-changing voter fraud in the 2020 election, and there was no early sign on Tuesday of any significant voter fraud in the 2022 midterms. Voter fraud typically represents a tiny fraction of ballots cast in US elections.
Trump made his Tuesday claim amid a series of social media posts in which he complained about assorted technical difficulties in some states. There was no evidence that any of these issues involved intentional malfeasance, let alone “voter fraud.”
Maricopa County debunks Republican’s false tweet about wait times
Maricopa County, the most populous county in Arizona, has tweeted a debunking of a prominent Republican personality’s false Election Day claim about voting wait times.
Charlie Kirk, the founder and president of right-wing group Turning Point USA, tweeted Tuesday to his 1.8 million followers: “2 hour wait minimum at most polling places in Maricopa. Democrats running elections here knew this would happen. Traffic jam by design. DONT LET THEM DO 2020 AGAIN. WAIT IN LINE AND VOTE.”
The tweet was thoroughly inaccurate.
Maricopa County’s elections aren’t run by Democrats: its elections chief, Recorder Stephen Richer, and its Board of Supervisors chairman, Bill Gates, are both Republicans. And the county’s online wait-times tracker showed that dozens of voting locations there had waits of under five minutes, including many with no waits at all. County voters are permitted to cast their ballots at whatever location they choose.
Maricopa County did experience Election Day technical problems with tabulation devices at about 20% of its voting locations, according to county officials on Tuesday morning. The problem prompted officials to ask affected voters to place their ballot in a secure box for counting, wait for the tabulator problems to be resolved, or go vote at another county location. (Richer issued an afternoon statement saying the Board of Supervisors had identified the problem and had “begun fixing affected voting locations.” He promised that “every legal vote will be tabulated.”)
But there was no indication of intentional malfeasance.
Maricopa County said in its tweet in response to Kirk’s tweet: “No part of the tweet below is accurate. The vast majority of Vote Centers are seeing wait times under 30 minutes, and whether by tabulator or secure ballot box, all voters are being served.”
Conspiracy theorists call for voters to ‘check for WiFi’
Conspiracy theorists are warning voters to “check for WiFi” network names and connections inside and outside of their polling locations, a new iteration of the debunked conspiracy that voting machines are connected to the internet and can change votes remotely.
“Check for Wifi connections, both inside & outside poll locations. Election machines should not be connected to the Internet. Take a screenshot to report irregularities for investigation,” read one tweet.
The calls on social media sites such as Telegram and Twitter echo previous debunked conspiracy theories that voting machines are connected to the internet, thus allowing for tampering by third-party saboteurs or election officials to change votes from one candidate to another.
In reality, “voting machines” that actually mark ballots are not typically directly connected to the internet, despite cries from election conspiracy theorists. The larger voting systems can be connected to the internet, often to use the election management software used to program machines and to test them, but this is supposed to occur