E-voting in Brazil, step by step


At least 23 million Brazilians will use voting machines with fingerprint authentication.

Brazil will be holding general elections this October 5th. During the event, the country will deploy one of the world’s most complex electoral platforms, as 141.8 million voters will choose between 26,131 candidates aspiring to 1,709 posts including president, vice president, governors, deputy governors, and federal, state, and district senators.

Brazil’s electoral process is 100% automated—except for the identification phase, which will be applied to only 16.4% of the registry, that is, 23.3 million voters. Voting, tallying and transmission of the results will be done through electronic means developed by the High Electoral Court. Since 1996, when the first automated experience took place, the country has made considerable progress, and now it has one of the world’s most successful e-voting models.

Since each voter must perform five or six selections, the electoral body activated simulators for voters living in Brazil and abroad, so that everybody is prepared for the elections.

This Sunday, each voter will carry out two steps to exert his or her right to suffrage and complete the voting cycle. The process is completed with two technical stages at the end of the event.

1.- Authentication

Each voter must present his or her ID at the polling station. In case of voting in one of the 25 cities that will provide biometric identification (fingerprint scanning), instead of checking his or her data in an electoral registry, each voter will use a machine with the device that will enable verification of his or her identity.

2.- Voting

The Brazilian machines have a small screen and a number keyboard where each voter must press the number assigned to their preferred candidate. Once selected, the candidate’s picture, name, and his or her political party’s initials will appear onscreen. This enables verifying the vote. If correct, the voter must press the “confirm” key to execute the vote or the correction button to make changes. If the voter wishes to vote for none of the candidates, he or she can press the “blank” key. There is also an option to make a void vote by pushing random numbers and pressing the “confirm” key. This process must be repeated for each post in contest. After all the votes have been registered, the ballot box will beep and the word END will appear onscreen.

3.- Tallying

Votes emitted by the electors are encrypted with a digital signature and stored in two memory flash cards and a magnetic disk. At the end of the process, selections are tallied and results are printed on several minutes. The magnetic disk is promptly delivered to the High Electoral Court.

4.- Transmission

After the tallying process is finished and the precinct count minutes are printed, the information on the magnetic disk is transmitted through an exclusive secure network to perform totaling of all the votes in the computers of the regional offices and of the High Electoral Court. Brazilian legislation allows the electoral body to release results in real-time on its website.