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The history of electronic voting in Brazil

Tomorrow, voting machines will be working at full steam as Brazilians go to the polls for the second round of the country's general elections. We take you though the main developments of e-voting in Brazil over the last 30 years.
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1 of 7 Angelica Mari/ZDNet

E-voting in Brazil: a journey spanning nearly 30 years

Brazil is one of the only countries in the world where the voting process is entirely electronic. E-voting was introduced in in 1996 as a means to ensure secrecy and accuracy of the election process.

Speed was a key consideration for the introduction of the model. The system underpinned by about 530,000 voting machines currently in place enables results to be processed within a matter of minutes within closing of the ballots.

However, serious doubts have been raised in recent years over issues related to the security and privacy of the voting machines, which are understood to be vulnerable to fraud.

The main components of the voting machines are two flash memory cards for the operational system — all machines currently run on Linux — in addition to applications needed to process the votes, as well as the votes themselves, which are recorded though bespoke security and redundancy mechanisms.

Other physical components include a memory stick, used to record the final result of the votes recorded in the machine, a print module for the final bulletin of the votes processed through the device, as well as a terminal for the voting coordinator at the polling station, who allows the citizen to walk up to the machine and vote.

The citizen then votes using a keypad with numbers and three options: blank (which is effectively a way to annul the vote), correct and confirm. The final choice and confirmation are displayed on a LCD screen.

The following gallery takes you through the history of e-voting in Brazil, from the very start of the project in the 1980s up until the machines used currently. 

 

 

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2 of 7 Angelica Mari/ZDNet

1986 - the early beginnings

Brazil is one of the only countries in the world where the voting process is entirely electronic. The migration to the electronic process starts, with about 70 million voters re-registering with the government to be included in the new voter database. This image shows one of the members of the IT team at Brazil's Superior Electoral Tribunal, who was responsible for the data entry, which took place between 1985 and 1986. 

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3 of 7 Tribunal Superior Eleitoral

1994 - Results processed electronically

Following the data gathering of all the voters, election results were processed through a central mainframe at the Brazilian Superior Electoral Tribunal for the first time ever in 1994, however the voting machines were yet to be introduced. 

Voting in Brazil is compulsory; the image above shows a document that all citizens must have in order to vote.  

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4 of 7 Tribunal Superior Eleitoral

1996 - Procurement of the first voting machine

The government procured the first e-voting machine in 1996. Within a few months, the  first model of the voting device was produced and processed about a third of all voters in the presidential elections that year.

The image above shows the model employed that year. IBM, Procomp and Unisys were involved in the tendering process for the e-voting machine. Unisys won the tender, with a design that was used as a principle for all the other versions of the machine that followed. 

 

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5 of 7 Tribunal Superior Eleitoral

1998 - Two thirds of Brazilians vote eletronically

In 1998, two thirds of all Brazilian voters did so electronically in the general elections that took place that year, with 537 municipalities across the country using the method to vote. Local supplier Procomp provided the voting machines for the locations where the number of voters exceeded 40.000 people. 

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6 of 7 Tribunal Superior Eleitoral

2000- All Brazilians vote electronically

In 2000, All Brazilians used the electronic method to vote.  That year, the method was used in all the 5.559 municipalities in Brazil that existed back then. Supplier Procomp — acquired by US ATM manufacturer Diebold in the prior year — manufactured 190.000 machines that were used for the occasion.

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7 of 7 Tribunal Superior Eleitoral

2012 - Biometric systems are introduced

Biometric registration begins as part of a progressive migration to a new voting identification system. By this year, approximately 14 million out of 140 million Brazilian voters were signed up for the platform. Incumbent manufacturer Diebold was also chosen to provide the new versions for the machines. 

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