PETALING JAYA: Bersih 2.0 is concerned that viral fake news and messages about how to vote is sparking fear and confusion among voters.
Bersih 2.0, or The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, said one false viral Facebook post claims that the right way to cast your ballot is by marking a large cross with its four ends touching the borders of the box. The post claims that a small cross that "floats" in the box is incorrect.
Another false viral message alleges that the serial number on the ballot can be used to identify the voter and thus must be crossed off, while others provide inaccurate advice on how to protect their vote.
During a press conference at the Bersih headquarters here on Tuesday (April 17), the Bersih Steering Committee clarified that both methods of putting a cross in the box ballot paper are accepted.
"To cast your ballot, you only need to mark your ballot to indicate your choice of candidate with an 'X'," said the committee, adding that it was not required nor necessary for the "X" to cover the whole box to indicate their choice.
It also clarified that the serial number on the ballot cannot be used to track voter information. In fact, voters must not cross off the serial number as this would spoil their vote.
"The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections calls on the Election Commision (EC) to do its duty under the law by coming forward to clarify the concerns on the secrecy of the vote and the voting process, amidst a flurry of social media messages aimed at cultivating fear among voters," said acting chairman Shahrul Aman.
The committee added that more information on voter secrecy and a voting guide should be provided by the EC.
They urged the EC to conduct public awareness campaigns through mainstream and social media on voter rights and the proper method to ensure their votes are protected.
They added that the lack of information and misleading statements have not only sparked confusion among voters, but also spread fear that they need to resort to particular methods to protect their votes.
Shahrul said that the lack of information coupled with false messages aimed at getting voters to spoil their votes under the guise of protecting it, can undermine the election.
"The election commissioners must come out and immediately correct all the false information," manager Mandeep Singh said.
Bersih also urged the public to share accurate information responsibly.
It said the public can verify any dubious information by contacting the EC at 03-8892 7220 or Bersih at 03-79314444 or via its social media channels.
Bersih will also download the EC's Voters Guide on the Bersih website at www.bersih.org.