After the World Cup, Brazil concentrates on October elections


Brazil uses electronic ballot boxes with number keyboards and a biometric identification system.

Brazil uses electronic ballot boxes with number keyboards and a biometric identification system.

After hosting the World Cup, Brazil has less than three months left to organize the upcoming 5 October general elections. The electoral campaign has barely started, but the country is already busy preparing to automate all of the stages of suffrage: voter identification, vote registration, scrutiny, aggregation, and transmission of results.

Brazil has been using electronic voting for almost 20 years, and along with Venezuela, it is considered one of the pioneers in the adoption of electoral technology in the world. The vast amount of voters (141.8 million) and the complex logistics of Brazilian elections pose a challenge the country has already overcome multiple times. So far, the only reported downside of the nation’s automated process is the fact that the voting machines do not print vote receipts on paper, which would enable comparing electronic results with printed votes in order to solve any possible concern.

Brazil’s e-voting system consists of a ballot box with a biometric authentication device (fingerprint scanner) that verifies voters’ identities and then allows them to use a small screen and a number keyboard to select their preferred candidates. Voters then confirm their selection with a picture appearing onscreen and press the “confirm” key to finish voting. The machine has a key for casting blank votes, and it also permits voiding votes by typing random keys and pressing “confirm.”

Brazil’s voting machines have two memory cards and a magnetic disk for data storage. After polling places close, several minutes are printed with the results of the election, and another one is stored in the magnetic disk. This last copy is transmitted over an exclusive secure network to the computers at the regional courts and at the High Electoral Court. The system goes under several audits and requires electronic signatures from all stakeholders.

Four years ago, over one million voters were able to use the identity verification tool, but now it will be 23 million as authorities continue to expand the reach of biometric authentication to strengthen electoral guarantees.

Brazil —the sixth largest economy in the world— is ready to vote in October knowing that it has the best option to deliver results that honor the people’s will: electronic voting.