VERA FILES FACT CHECK: FAKE warning on ‘bleeding’ ballots spread on FB, Twitter

A warning circulating on social media claiming that votes cast for senatorial candidate Lito Lapid could be counted in favor of Mar Roxas is wrong.

The post, which says ballot ovals shaded for Lapid will bleed through and fill out Roxas’ oval, has been debunked by Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez himself.

The message claims to have originated from an unnamed Davao-based vote counting machine (VCM) technician who “recently conducted a final testing and sealing of ballots.” The text read:

Repost! Hwag iboto si LITO LAPID.naging VCM technician ako dito sa davao sabihan nyo mga kakilala,frnds,etc. na hwag botohan c lito lapid dahil tatagos ang ink ng pen sa fr0nt page na nandun ang name ni MAR ROXAS.. kapag sini shade nyo si lapid, ang lalabas sa resibo kay mar roxas kahit kay lapid sinishade nyo..

(Repost! Don’t vote for Lito Lapid. I was a VCM technician here in Davao. Tell the people you know, friends, etc. to not vote for Lito Lapid because the pen’s ink will bleed through the front page where Mar Roxas’ name is placed.. If you shade Lapid’s, the receipt will show Mar Roxas’ [name] even if it’s Lapid’s [name] that you shaded..)”

It also gave instructions to spread the post only through Facebook Messenger. But several netizens and Facebook pages shared the fake post between Feb. 28 and March 4 outside the messaging application in various ways:

  • As a screenshot of a supposed message on Facebook Messenger written in Bisaya
  • As a screenshot of the same message written in Filipino
  • As a Facebook status accompanied by Lito Lapid and Mar Roxas’ photos

Comelec’s Jimenez called the warning fake in a series of tweets on March 4.

Posting the screenshot version of the fake post and a digital copy of an official ballot, he wrote:

Magsisinungaling lang, mali-mali pa. una, parehong front page ang Lapid at Roxas. Paano “tatagos?” 2nd, hindi magkahilera ang ovals sa front at back page. Paano maging problema ang “tagos?” At, huy! Wala pang final testing & sealing na nagaganap! Masyado ka advance magisip! LOL

(You were just going to lie, and yet you got your information wrong. First, Lapid and ROxas are both on the front page. How will it “bleed”? 2nd, the ovals on the front and back page are unaligned. How would “bleeding through” become a problem? And, hey! There haven’t been any final testing & sealing that have happened yet! You’re too forward-thinking! LOL).”

Comelec’s bidding documents for the procurement of the ballot paper and markers to be used for the coming elections specify that the ballot paper “shall be of such quality as to prevent markings on one side of the ballot to bleed through the other side.”

The markers on the other hand should pass the following tests:

“a. Under different climate conditions, different room temperatures, and different room pressures;

b. The pens do not leak if carried in flight;

c. The ink of the pens do not bleed through the back of the paper; and

d. The ink of the pens do not blot the paper.”

Additionally, the Comelec calendar indicates the final testing and sealing of ballots are only set to happen on May 6 to 10, a few days before the May 13 midterm elections. The printing of the 63.6 million ballots started in February and will be completed by April.

The fake warning first surfaced on social media on Feb. 28, the same day the opposition senatorial slate Otso Diretso, which includes Roxas, asked Comelec to facilitate a debate between them and the administration-backed ticket Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

Facebook page Tatay ng Bayan carried the fake post and was shared over 4,000 times. One netizen’s post last Feb. 28 was shared by over 2,000 people, while another netizen’s March 4 version was re-shared over 8,000 times. The latter also authored a false and misleading post VERA Files Fact Check debunked last month that claimed the Supreme Court has junked corruption cases filed against the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his family. (SEE: VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Viral SC ruling on Marcos plunder case FALSE and MISLEADING)

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

(VERA Files is a part of, a collaborative fact-checking initiative by the academe and the media for the 2019 Philippine midterm elections.)