Elections in Brazil

Elections in Brazil

Brazil elects on the national level a head of state – the president – and a legislature. The president is elected for a four-year term by the people. The National Congress ("Congresso Nacional") has two chambers. The Chamber of Deputies ("Câmara dos Deputados") has 513 members, elected for a four-year term by proportional representation. The Federal Senate ("Senado Federal") has 81 members, elected for an eight-year term, with elections every four years for alternatively one-third and two-third of the seats. Brazil has a multi-party system, with such numerous parties that often no one party has a chance of gaining power alone, and so they must work with each other to form coalition governments.

The Brazilian voting machines

Brazil was the first country in the world to have fully electronic elections.Electronic voting was introduced to Brazil in 1996 (when the first tests were carried out in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil). The chief goal of the Brazilian voting machine is its extreme simplicity, attempting to be as straightforward as a public phone booth.

The Brazilian voting machines were firstly developed in 1996 by a Brazilian partnership formed by three companies OMNITECH (previously known as TDA), Microbase and Unisys do Brasil attending the TSE RFP for the Brazilian Elections in 1996. This machine was an IBM PC 80386 compatible adapted to perform as a voting machine, and was known as UE96. In 1998, Diebold-Procomp, Microbase and Samurai (formerly known as OMNITECH) teamed up to produce UE98. Again in 2000, Microbase and Diebold-Procomp developed UE2000 together. In 2000 Brazil achieved the first completely automated election.

The original operating system was VirtuOS, similar to the old DOS complemented with multi-tasking, developed and copyrighted by Microbase. It was used in 1996, 1998 and 2000. In 2002, Unisys was unable renew the partnership with Microbase, and Microsoft provided the Windows CE operating system free of charge. In 2004, Diebold-Procomp decided to migrate to Linux as a cost reduction measure.

The Brazilian voting machine accumulate the first three steps (elector identification, secret voting and results in each machine) in only one process, then it can eliminate the public documents which were considerate as fraud source. Therefore, there still remain some questions about the security of the electronic voting system, but no case of election fraud has yet been uncovered:

#Critics argue that they do not produce a printed vote verified by the voter which would permit an audit of the vote-counting. This makes them highly dependent on the trusting of the software. The application program which verifies the internal integrity of the system is itself vulnerable to adulterations. [http://www.cic.unb.br/docentes/pedro/trabs/analise_setup.html] An inspection report of the City of Sto. Estevão, Bahia described the system of seals and closure of the box are simple and permitting access to the socket of the internal memory cartridge. [http://www.votoseguro.org/arquivos/stoestevao.zip] [http://www.votoseguro.org/textos/stoestevao1.htm]
#It is not possible to audit the voting machine’s programs, because the Brazilian Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) doesn’t permit it. However, the political parties have access to the voting machine's programs before the election for auditing.
#There is the possibility to violate the voting, because the elector number is typed in one machine which is connected to the voting machine, but it is not possible to know that it means that it is the same name (person).
#The political parties cannot check the final counts, because it is not possible to ask for the recount.
#People working in the voting section may vote for absent electors.
#Some electors can be manipulated during the voting, because they don’t know how to use the voting machine, so someone can tell them which number he or she should type in.

The voting system has been widely accepted, due in great part to the fact that it speeds up the vote count tremendously. In the 1989 presidential election between Fernando Collor de Mello and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the vote count required nine days. In the 2002 general election, the count required less than 12 hours. In some smaller towns the election results are known minutes after the closing of the ballots.

Supporters of the electronic vote claim that unless the fraud were intentionally designed into the machines, it would be impossible to carry an extensive fraud in such a small amount of time. However, security has always been an issue, and the Brazilian Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) regularly funds research aimed at improving it. The source code to the voting software is proprietary and the public is not able to examine it. In order to be able to recount the votes, a printing system has been developed and a new electoral registration system is planned.

Brazil lends the machines to other countries for elections as well. They have been used in Paraguay and Ecuador, and there are plans to export the patented machines.

Brazilian Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) is testing a new machine which has a digital screen, so the electors just have to put three fingerprints which will identify them. It will make more difficult to carry out fraudulent voting for absent electors.However, the National Congress of Brazil has to approve a law to change the electoral registration process, because then they will register their fingerprints in the Electoral Court computers. The goal is to have this law totally approved by July 2008, so the election in 2012 will use this new system.

2006 General election

Presidential election

Parliamentary election

Past elections and referendums

Election results 1982-2006


Brazil has held three national referendums in its history. In the first, held on January 6, 1963, the people voted for the re-establishment of the presidential system of government (82% of valid ballots), which had been modified by a constitutional amendment in 1961. A second referendum, as ordered by the Federal Constitution of 1988, was held on April 21, 1993, when the voters voted for a republican form of government and reaffirmed the presidential system.

A third national referendum, on the prohibition of the commerce of personal firearms and ammunition, was held on October 23, 2005. The ban proposal was rejected by the electorate (No: 64%; Yes: 36%).

ee also

* Electoral calendar
* Electoral system
* List of political parties in Brazil

External links

* [http://psephos.adam-carr.net/countries/b/brazil/ Adam Carr's Election Archive]
* [http://www.tse.gov.br/eleicoes/urna_eletronica/simulacao_votacao/UrnaApplet2.htm Simulated voting machine (Portuguese)] Courtesy of the Brazilian Supreme Electoral Court website. (Java required)
* [http://noleakybuckets.org/brasil-history.html Brief history of electronic voting in Brazil]
* [http://sf.indymedia.org/news/2006/10/1732770.php Brazil: The Perfect Electoral Crime (II)] (Security analysis of the Brazilian voting machines by James Burk, Oct. 21, 2006)

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