Malaysia election: 'X' is not the only way to mark the ballot paper on May 9

Aside from the well-known cross mark, other symbols like a clear and legible circle, a tick, an asterisk or even a dot that clearly shows a voter's choice of candidate will count as an accepted vote.
Aside from the well-known cross mark, other symbols like a clear and legible circle, a tick, an asterisk or even a dot that clearly shows a voter's choice of candidate will count as an accepted vote.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The ubiquitous "X" may be ideal but it is not the only way to mark the ballot paper on polling day.

Aside from the well-known cross mark, other symbols like a clear and legible circle, a tick, an asterisk or even a dot that clearly shows a voter's choice of candidate will count as an accepted vote, according to an Election Commission (EC) guidebook handed out to polling and counting agents.

 

While voters are encouraged to place a neat "X" in the box next to the name and symbol of their preferred candidate, the EC allows some flexibility on how the marking is made on the ballot paper.

The guide contains some 39 examples of differently marked ballots that will count as a valid vote and 27 examples of ballots that will be rejected.

The examples show that the EC will accept certain types of markings to give the benefit of the doubt to voters who may be unaware of how to properly mark their ballots.

The examples include a mark made within the space containing the candidate's name or within the space containing the candidate's campaigning symbol.

Certain types of markings are considered as spoiling the ballot.

 
 
 

They include an "X" or a mark that extends into the space of another candidate, as well as any obscene, sensitive or derogatory words written on the ballot paper.

Markings in more than one boxes or a mark made on the back of the ballot paper will also be considered as spoiled votes.

In a media conference on Tuesday, electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 also highlighted false information about the voting process that has been spread widely on social media, sparking confusion and fear among voters.

One falsehood that has gone viral over the past week is a Facebook post claiming that the right way to vote is by marking a large X on the ballot with the four ends of the letter touching the corners of the box.

The post adds that a small X that "floats" in the box is incorrect.

Another WhatsApp message claims that the serial number on the ballot can be used to identify voters, and advises them to cross it off to protect their right to vote in secrecy.

Bersih 2.0 such misinformation creates fear and may lead to voters unintentionally spoiling their votes.

A copy of the Vote Counting Guide can also be accessed on the Bersih website at www.bersih.org.