Brazil's Superior Electoral Court to open source code of voting machines prior to elections

The technology underpinning the elections will be scrutinized a year before citizens head to the polls
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

Brazil's Superior Electoral Court (TSE) has approved a new resolution to extend the period source codes of electronic voting machines and the electronic voting system must be available for scrutiny by the civil society.

With the resolution, source codes must be available for inspection 12 months before the first round of elections takes place - the previous deadline was 6 months prior to the elections. According to TSE minister Luis Roberto Barroso, the decision to anticipate access to electoral systems is part of initiatives aimed to improve good practice and the need to strengthen the transparency of the electoral process, "especially regarding the process of development and auditing of the electronic voting system."

Last month, TSE announced the creation of a new body aimed at enhancing transparency and security of the electoral process. The Election Transparency Commission (CTE) is aimed at increasing the participation of experts, representatives of civil society and public institutions in the inspection and auditing of the electoral process.

The members of the CTE will be working with the Court in the analysis of its action plan to increase the transparency of the elections. The group of specialists will also monitor and supervise the development phases of the electoral systems and the auditing of the electoral process. They will also be expected to provide opinion and advice on enhancements that may be required.

In addition to representatives of institutions and public bodies, a number of information technology specialists and members of the civil society will be part of the CTE. The group of tech experts includes the academics André Luís de Medeiros Santos, a professor at the Federal University of Pernambuco; Bruno de Carvalho Albertini, professor at the University of São Paulo; Roberto Alves Gallo Filho, PhD from the State University of Campinas; Ana Carolina da Hora, researcher at the Center for Technology and Society at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation's Law School in Rio de Janeiro, as well as Ana Claudia Santano, general coordinator at non-profit organization Transparência Eleitoral Brasil, and Fernanda Campagnucci, executive director at Open Knowledge Brasil.

When announcing the creation of the new body, minister Barroso noted the TSE will be starting its cycle of electoral transparency on October 4, a year before the presidential elections of 2022. At the event, all the CTE members, TSE ministers and the presidents of all political parties in Brazil will be given a demonstration of the system utilized in the electronic voting machines, and will be able to see the source code. Electoral authorities from entities such as the Organization of American States, Idea International and the Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations (Uniore), which act as observers in various elections in America, will also be present at the event.

In addition to the announcement of the CTE, the Electoral Court created the Election Transparency Observatory (OTE), which will collaborate with the CTE and the TSE towards the aim of increasing voting transparency as well as public knowledge about the electoral system in Brazil.

Public and private organizations and institutions with distinguished work in the areas of technology, human rights, democracy and political science may be invited to join the Observatory. According to the TSE, invites have been sent to various politicians and organizations that have partnered previously with the Court.

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