Brazil will go through two crucial Sundays this October. This Sunday, the first round of the municipal elections will be held. These elections will choose more than 5,500 posts, and more than 140 million citizens will vote. If it becomes necessary, there will be a second round next October 28th.
The massive amount of voters and the complex logistics of the Brazilian elections could be intimidating, given the size of the task being assumed by the country in each electoral event. However, the nation has been developing for almost 20 years one of the most successful electronic voting systems in the world. Up to now, the one observation on this giant’s automations is that its voting machines do not print a vote receipt on paper, which would help to settle eventual controversies by comparing them to the automated results.
Although this aspect is still under debate, the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) has hinted that the emission of a paper vote receipt could be implemented in the future in order to reinforce electoral warranties. The Brazilian government developed its own technology, supported by the services of specialized companies, and it automated all the phases of the elections: voter identification, voting, scrutiny, and tallying. This system has been exported to different countries, which pay a rental fee to use the equipment and guarantee its maintenance.
The Brazilian electronic voting is very simple. Voters will use a ballot box that consists in a biometric identifier—fingerprint scanner—, which allows the voter, once his or her identity is confirmed, to use a small screen and a number keyboard to check the numbers assigned to his or her preferred candidate. The voter then verifies his or her vote on the picture that shows up on the screen presses the “confirm” key, and that’s it. If the elector does not want to vote for any of the candidates, he or she can press the “blank” key, or there is also the alternative of making the vote null by pressing random numbers and pressing “confirm”. For the storage of data, two flash memory cards and one magnetic disk are used. At the closure of the process, various reports are printed with the results of the election, and one is stored in the magnetic disk, which is then transmitted on an exclusive, safe network to regional court and TSE computers for consolidation. The system is subjected to many audits and requires electronic signatures from all of the actors.
On Brazil’s plus side is the fact that the law authorizes showing results to the citizens practically in real time, that is, shortly after the polling stations are closed and scrutiny begins. With this legal possibility, the speed of e-voting rockets infinitely, because since the TSE does not have to consult political actors on the results, it can upload them to its website’s as they reach the consolidation center.
Technology is synonymous with solution, and Brazil is perfectly aware of that. In October, it will test once again its worth as a forerunner of electronic voting in the region.