FACT CHECK: No, this is not the ‘official’ ballot used in PH midterm polls

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 10 2019 09:52 PM

Videos that have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on social media purport to show "pre-shaded" ​official ballot papers for the Philippines’ midterm election. 

The claim is false; the ballots that can be seen in the misleading videos are missing a key security feature included on all official ballots.

One of the videos, which was shared on YouTube and has been viewed more than 40,000 times since it was uploaded April 30, 2019, shows what it claims is an official ballot for the midterm elections on May 13.

Below is a screenshot of the video:

Screengrab of video

The yellow text, when translated to English, says “This is the official ballot which came from Comelec”.

“Comelec” refers to the Commission on Elections, the government body which oversees Philippine elections.

The misleading video claims that the purported ballot has been doctored so that the names of opposition candidates have been pre-selected.

A similar video and claim have also been posted on Facebook, where it has been shared more than 54,000 times and viewed nearly 900,000 times.

Below is a screenshot of the misleading Facebook post:

Screenshot of Facebook post

The misleading Facebook post also features a purported ballot for the May 13, 2019 election.

The misleading Facebook video also claims that the purported ballot has been doctored so that the names of opposition candidates have been pre-selected.

A man can be heard in the video saying in Tagalog from 0:02-0:13: “I will just expose this, this shameless Comelec, they have no shame, why will we even have the elections when this is already the case?”

He adds from 0:46 - 0:49: “The ballots have been printed, they are already printed”.

But neither of the misleading videos show an official ballot paper for the Philippine election.

Both of the purported ballots in the misleading videos are missing a QR code, which is a security and tracking feature that appears on all official ballots in the May 13 election.

“The QR code is a security feature. It makes it easier to track the ballot and is specific to the place where the ballot can be used,” James Jimenez, Comelec spokesman, told AFP in a phone interview on May 7.

Comelec Executive Director Jose Tolentino told reporters on May 2 that the misleading videos did not show genuine ballots.

His comments can be seen at the 9:43 mark in this footage, uploaded on Comelec’s official Facebook page.

“Obviously, the video was staged because the ballot that was used did not have the QR code,” Tolentino says in the video.

Below is a comparison of the purported ballot from the YouTube video (top image) and the dummy ballot Comelec provided to AFP via email on May 9 (bottom image):

Screenshot of images

Comelec says it has not released real ballots in order to avoid potential fraud. However, the body posted sample ballots -- without QR codes -- on its website in February.

The purported official ballots in the misleading videos say: “APLAYA, SANTA ROSA CITY, LAGUNA” on the right and have the number “0014A” on the left.

A sample ballot which contains the exact same information can be seen on the Comelec website.