‘Spy pen’ won’t work on ballots—Comelec

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 06:33 AM May 08, 2016

“What next? Drone ballots?”

This was the reaction of Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez to  text messages claiming the existence of “spy pens” to pre-mark ballots in favor of Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas.


“A spy pen? A pen that writes but the writing is invisible? That won’t work,” Jimenez said.

If this were the scenario, “Mar will not win. If the pre-marked ballots are all for Mar, but a voter shades the oval of another preferred candidate, that’s already an overvote. The VCM will not count it, that’s already an error,” he said.


“So unless they’ve configured all the 92,000 vote counting machines  (VCM) to ignore all other markings except the one made by that supposed spy pen, that’s not going to work because everyone will overvote,” he expained.

Karen Jimeno, head of Smartmatic’s voter education, echoed Jimenez. “The VCMs will only recognize the markings written using the marking pens provided by Smartmatic. In the case of overseas voters, they may use black permanent markers,” Jimeno said. “And besides, overvotes will not be counted by the VCM.”

She added: “The automated election system is  designed in a way that this type of fraud will be detected. As soon as voters feed their ballots into the VCMs, the VCMs capture images of the front and back of the ballots. The ballots themselves are preserved so that electronic results can be compared with the ballots and the images of the ballots. In case of an election protest, all three can be compared to each other for discrepancies. In addition, on election day, election watchdogs will conduct a random manual audit to compare paper ballots with the electronic results.”

The Comelec earlier reminded voters not to “overvote” when they fill their ballots.

Overvoting means a voter shaded more than one candidate for president or vice president, or  13 candidates for Senator, instead of only 12 or less. These ballots will be nullified and not counted.

If  a voter did not vote for a senator, or did not shade any oval among the senatorial candidates list, the ballot will still be valid.

The Comelec earlier also addressed a viral image circulating on the internet showing what appeared to be a ballot with Roxas’ and Robredo’s names highlighted in yellow. Jimenez said the image appeared to have been manipulated.


The Comelec spokesperson also did not rule out the possibility that what was circulated was a sample ballot used in the campaign.

TOPICS: Comelec, Commission on Elections, James Jimenez, Liberal Party, Mar Roxas, vote counting machines
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