Brazil’s Electronic Ballot Spreads Throughout Latin America

The election coordenator of the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy at the Organization of American States (OAS), Santiago Murray, says that the Brazilian electronic voting system (called urnas eletrônicas in Portuguese) will be used in more Latin American nations.

“We are working with the Brazilian Election Commission (Tribunal Superior Eleitoral) (TSE) on the details. The system will be used in other countries because it is transparent and reliable.


We were able to confirm that in the last Brazilian election,” declared Murray, praising yesterday’s elections in Brazil and calling them well-organized.


“The long process to reach a well-run election was both political and social. It was a rich experience.”


Yesterday’s municipal elections in Brazil were the largest ever run using an electronic voting system anywhere in the world.


A total of almost 360,000 electronic voting machines were used (another 45,000 were available for backup). The election was observed by 25 international representatives who were invited by the TSE.


The Brazilian electronic voting system already has an international track record. It has been used in Argentina, Mexico and Paraguay. And on October 17, will be used in Ecuador.


No Printed Ballot


Last year, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies approved the end of printed votes in electronic ballot boxes. Printed votes were used only in the 2002 elections. The project, elaborated by Senator Eduardo Azeredo, replaced the printed vote by a digital register.


The Senator argued that implanting the printing system throughout the country would entail a high cost, because the mechanism would have to be installed in over 350 thousand electronic ballot boxes that are not outfitted with vote printers.


Prior to the voting on the bill, the president of the Federal Elections Court (TSE), Minister Sepúlveda Pertence, met with the president of the Chamber, Deputy João Paulo Cunha, and party leaders to explain the reliability of the electronic ballot system, and he informed that installation of the printing system would entail expenditures of around US$ 150 million.


He emphasized the difficulties caused by the printed vote in the 2002 elections, with longer lines, higher numbers of blank and invalid votes, and, most of all, problems in the printing, which led many polling places to resort to handwritten ballots.


Pertence also informed that in the 20 thousand polling places in which there were printed votes in 2002, 30.2% had to resort to handwritten ballots, as against 0.68% in ballot boxes without printed votes.


Agência Brasil
Translator: Allen Bennett

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