On October 3, 2004, more than 115 million Brazilian voters in 5,562 municipalities will cast their ballots for mayor and city councillors in elections that are totally computerized.
The vote is mandatory in Brazil for everyone between the ages of 18 and 70. For individuals between 16 and 18 and those over 70, voting is voluntary. Elections, either general or municipal, are held in Brazil every two years.
General elections occur every four years. Each citizen casts votes for President, senators, federal deputies, state or district deputies, and governor.
In the elections for President, governor, and senators, majority rule applies, victory going to the candidate (or candidates, which sometimes the case in Senate elections) who obtains the largest number of votes.
Deputies, however, are elected by proportional voting. In this system, each party adds up its vote total and is assigned a corresponding proportional share of seats.
Within each party, the seats are distributed to the candidates with the largest number of votes relative to other candidates on the same party list, regardless of the absolute number of votes received.
An example is what happened in the 2004 elections in São Paulo. Enéas Carneiro, who ran for one of the state’s 46 seats in the Federal Chamber of Deputies, received over 1.5 million votes, guaranteeing five seats for his party, the Prona (National Order Reconstruction Party), because the votes didn’t go directly to him but to his party.
Other Prona candidates, even though they received fewer than one thousand votes, were also elected, whereas other parties’ candidates whose vote count was thousands of votes higher were not elected.
Municipal elections also occur once every four years, but they are held two years after general elections. In this case, mayors and city councillors are selected in every Brazilian municipality.
The mayors are elected by majority vote, and the city councillors are chosen by proportional voting.
24 of the 5,562 municipalities in which elections will take place in 2004 have only a single mayoral candidate, who will be competing against blank and invalid votes.
If the candidate does not attain a majority (50% + 1) of the votes, the appropriate Regional Electoral Court (TRE) will set a date for a new election.
Translator: David Silberstein
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