False: Messages claiming markers can blot, affect ballot ovals of other candidates

May 5, 2022 - 1:05 PM
Illustration by Rhovin Luke Maglaqui

CLAIM: Circulating screenshots of text messages claimed that markers can blot and affect the shading of other ovals for other candidates on the ballot when casting votes.

Some online users shared that they have received these messages from others who supposedly have cast their votes and from poll watchers who are supposedly testing the ballots.

One of these messages reads:

“Good day! Nasa final sealing and testing ako. Ingat kayo sa pagshade sa if Kabataan Party-list ang iboboto niyo. Bumbakat ang marker sa harap which is for Sara Duterte. Wag masyadong madiin ang pagshade nagiinvalid ang vote for vice president o kaya naman ay ma-count for Sara Duterte.”

Another Twitter user also claimed that shading the ovals for two national candidates can allegedly blot the ovals for party-lists.

“Finally cast my vote. My family just noticed something on the ballots, if you shade #7 BBM’s name; at the back of the ballots where you choose you party-list, naka tapat sa kanya ay Angat Buhay, tapos kay #4 Sara D katapat sa likod Kabataan party-list. Just be careful,” the Twitter user claimed.

RATING: These claims are false.


Election lawyer Emil Marañon III pointed out on Twitter how the ovals in ballots are arranged for shading.

“Stop spreading fake news. The ballot was designed na hindi nagpapantay yung ovals para kahit mag blot at tumagos sa kabila, hindi matatamaan ang ovals sa other side,” Marañon tweeted.

The design of the ballot can also be seen on the sample or template ballots that could be accessed via the Commission on Electionswebsite.

There are ballot face templates for overseas voting and for local voting.

For the latter, there are templates that are specific for every district in Metro Manila and in every province for the rest of the regions.

Below is a sample template for Taguig District 1.

The ovals and the corresponding names of the candidates are arranged differently on page 1 with that on page 2.

This included the locations of the names of the candidates and party-lists mentioned in the circulating messages.


Screenshot of ballot face template on page 1 (From Comelec’s website)
Screenshot of ballot face template on page 2 (From Comelec’s website)

In a separate tweet,  Marañon said that “the effect of under-shading is it might NOT satisfy the minimum threshold required by Comelec for a shade to be counted as a valid vote.”

Meanwhile, instructions for voting and shading are also listed on each ballot as seen in the templates.

Below are the three instructions for casting votes:

  1. Completely blacken the inside of the circle beside the name of the desired candidate.
  2. Use only the marking pen provided for blackening the circles.
  3. Do not blacken more circles than what is intended.

Moreover, under resolution 10419, Comelec’s general instruction for voters is to “fully shade” the ovals for their votes to be counted.

Part of it reads:

“WHEREAS, as part of its mandate in the administration of elections, the Commission generally instructed the voters to fully shade the ovals of the ballots.”

Meanwhile, it was resolved that the poll body set the threshold of ballot shading to be 25%.

“NOW, THEREFORE, the Commission on Elections, pursuant to the powers vested in it by the Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code, and other election laws, RESOLVES, as it hereby RESOLVED, to set the threshold for the shading of the ballots at 25% for purposes of the May 13, 2019 National and Local Elections and subsequent elections thereafter,” the resolution reads.

The Public Information Agency Central Luzon said voters can bring their own pen to sign the Elecion Day Computerized Voters Lists. However, a marking pen will be provided for shading the oval in the ballot.

Why it matters

The circulating screenshot with false claim on ballot shading is circulating on social media garnering shares and retweets.

Raoul Manuel, Kabataan Party-list nominee and Marañon perceived these false claims as black propaganda against the party-list involved.

“This is a clear black ops to target @KabataanPL so their voters will undershade para hindi mabilang ang boto,” the poll lawyer tweeted.

“Ito ang ginagamit na paraan kasi di niya kayang siraan ang reputasyon natin,” Manuel tweeted.

The latter also shared a screenshot of a report from a poll watcher who debunked the details on the screenshot.

The poll watcher said that while blotting is possible, the ovals of Kabataan Party-list and Duterte-Carpio, are in different areas of the ballot.

This story is part of the Philippine Fact-check Incubator, an Internews initiative to build the fact-checking capacity of news organizations in the Philippines and encourage participation in global fact-checking efforts.

Interaksyon is part of #FactsFirstPH, a multi-sectoral initiative promoting truth in public space and demanding accountability for falsehoods. For those interested to join the initiative, email 

Interaksyon is also a founding partner of Tsek.ph, a collaborative fact-checking project for the 2022 Philippine elections. It is an initiative of academe, civil society groups and media to counter disinformation and provide the public with verified information.