Fact Check: Wi-Fi At Polling Place Does NOT Mean Voting Machines Are Connected To Internet

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Wi-Fi At Polling Place Does NOT Mean Voting Machines Are Connected To Internet No Connection

Does having Wi-Fi networks available at polling places mean voting machines are connected to the internet? No, that's not true: An expert told Lead Stories that assuming that the existence of a Wi-Fi network means that nearby voting machines are connected to it is incorrect.

The claim appeared in an Instagram post on November 8, 2022. It opened:


This is what the post looked like on Instagram at the time of this fact check's writing:

image - 2022-11-08T105324.902.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tues Nov 8 18:32:12 2022 UTC)

The full post read:


If you have voting in your state on Tuesday, please do the following:
1) From your car or (parking lot), check for available wifi networks and record these names.
2) While waiting in line to vote, check for available wifi networks again and see if there are any new ones.
3) In the privacy booth, check for available wifi networks. Record the names of any new wifi networks.
4) If you find any new wifi networks that do not belong, please email your County and State Board of Elections with the name of the wifi network. Ask them to investigate.

Please REPOST this message far and wide. Our voting machines are not suppose to be connected to the Internet.

The presence of Wi-FI -- "a wireless technology used to connect computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices to the internet," as defined by Verizon -- does not mean that voting machines are connected to the internet.

John Sebes, chief technology officer of the nonpartisan organization OSET Institute, which works with election technology, told Lead Stories in a phone interview on November 8, 2022, that many people are not familiar with the fact that Wi-Fi does not equal internet access:

The existence of Wi-Fi does not mean voting machines are using Wi-Fi. In fact, in many states they're prohibited from doing so. The existence of a Wi-Fi network does not mean internet connection either.

Sebes continued:

So, the modern problem here is that many people are not familiar with the fact that Wi-Fi does not equal internet access. With a Wi-Fi device, you can set it up, you can make it available to a handful of devices nearby and you can not connect to the internet at all. The other thing that maybe people don't understand is the Wi-Fi box itself doesn't usually provide internet access.

Prohibiting voting machines from having an internet connection is up to each state.

For example, Texas, Missouri, Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona all prohibit voting machines from being connected to the internet. California Secretary of State Communications Director Joe Kocurek told Lead Stories via email on November 8, 2022, "No. California's voting systems are not connected to the internet."

Additional Lead Stories fact checks related to voting machines can be found here.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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