Home Latest News EXPLAINER: Bolsonaro knocks Brazil’s voting system

EXPLAINER: Bolsonaro knocks Brazil’s voting system



RIO DE JANEIRO — With Brazil’s presidential election only a month off, President Jair Bolsonaro is feeding concern in regards to the nation’s digital voting system. He has lengthy insisted that the machines, used for a quarter-century, are susceptible to fraud, although he acknowledged final yr that hasn’t been proved. Brazil’s prime electoral authority says the system has been examined rigorously and a few critics of Bolsonaro say he could also be laying the groundwork for an try and cling to energy if the vote doesn’t go his means – very similar to former U.S. President Donald Trump, whom Bolsonaro admires.

Right here’s a have a look at Brazil’s digital vote system.


Brazilian authorities adopted digital voting machines to deal with longstanding fraud. In earlier elections, poll packing containers arrived at voting stations already full of votes. Others had been stolen and particular person votes had been routinely falsified, in keeping with Brazil’s electoral authority.

Digital machines had been first utilized in 1996 and the primary nationwide, electronic-only vote came about 4 years later. At this time, outcomes from greater than 150 million eligible voters are offered mere hours after polls shut. And no important fraud has ever been detected.


More than two dozen countries use some type of an digital system for nationwide elections, in keeping with the Worldwide Institute for Democracy and Electoral Help. However 80 % don’t, and voters in most superior democracies solid their ballots on paper.

Not like Brazil, most ballots solid in america are hand-marked and tabulated by scanners. Since 2016, U.S. voting jurisdictions have nearly fully phased out totally digital balloting. Louisiana is now the only U.S. state the place voting machines don’t produce some kind of paper file statewide.

Most voters within the U.S. additionally solid a hand-marked paper poll, which is then run by an digital tabulator to supply outcomes much more shortly than a hand depend would do.

In the U.S., a 2018 report by the National Academy of Sciences urged {that a} voter-verified paper file exist for each poll solid, with the originals secured in case outcomes are challenged.

Mark Lindeman, director of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan group that tracks use of voting gear within the U.S., stated an absence of bodily information makes it more durable to combat accusations of fraud.

“The 2020 (U.S.) election showed the value of paper ballots to examine election outcomes,” he stated. “However it additionally confirmed that political leaders can assault any election consequence they don’t like — even earlier than the election — and that these assaults can do hurt even when the claims defy bodily actuality. That’s most likely a bigger risk to free and honest elections than any present election expertise.”

Brazil’s system doesn’t produce a paper file of particular person votes, although Bolsonaro has advocated for that.


The electoral authority says voting machines are checked for reliability earlier than, throughout and after balloting. Votes recorded by every machine could be cross-checked with the general tallies after the vote.

Election officers acknowledge that hacking is at all times a danger, however say nobody has ever managed to change the machines’ supply code or election outcomes. They are saying dangers are additional minimized as a result of the machines aren’t linked to the web and data is distributed solely by inside methods, segments of which shut down if alterations are detected.

For this yr’s elections, over a dozen establishments — together with police, the army, prosecutors and universities — accepted the electoral court docket’s invitation to audit the machines. Throughout a three-day hackathon in Could, some 20 employed consultants sought to penetrate the system. None succeeded.


In 1993, then-lawmaker Bolsonaro complained to members of the army that the paper voting system was rigged, and spoke in favor of digitalization. As soon as digital voting was carried out, nonetheless, he grew to become one among its fiercest critics. In 2015, he proposed a constitutional modification to introduce printed information of votes that might permit handbook recounts. That handed Congress, however arguments it was too expensive and will violate the fitting to a secret poll led the Supreme Courtroom to dam it.


Bolsonaro gained the presidency in a 2018 runoff, and later vociferously claimed fraud had denied him an outright victory within the first spherical.

For months, he promised proof was coming, and his administration tasked the Federal Police with scouring the prior 25 years for proof. Lastly, final yr he acknowledged, “There is no way to prove the elections had been or weren’t fraudulent. There are indications.” Following that admission, lawmakers rejected a new Bolsonaro-backed bill as soon as once more looking for to undertake printed information.

Nonetheless, Bolsonaro has continued to assault the machines’ reliability. In July, he called dozens of diplomats to the presidential residence to current his claims. He centered closely on the existence of a police investigation right into a 2018 incident by which a hacker broke into the electoral authority’s inside system. The authority, which requested for the police investigation, stated the hacker by no means accessed any voting machines nor their supply code and so couldn’t alter the info or compromise outcomes.

The U.S. State Division issued an announcement a day after Bolsonaro’ s assembly with diplomats, saying Brazil’s electoral system and democratic establishments are a “mannequin for the world.”

Allegations that the system is unreliable have unfold throughout social media and messaging apps — typically in teams backing the president. That’s just like the assaults questioning the safety of voting gear within the U.S. since Trump misplaced the 2020 presidential election. Republicans in some locations have sought to ditch all voting and tabulating machines in favor of paper ballots and hand-counting.


Bolsonaro, a former military captain who has crammed his authorities with army figures, has sought to increase armed forces’ position in elections. As a gesture, the electoral authority invited the armed forces to take a seat on its transparency fee and suggest modifications to the system. On that fee, Protection Minister Paulo Sérgio Nogueira has made a sequence of statements echoing Bolsonaro’s claims. That has provoked concern at home and overseas in regards to the armed forces — which imposed a 1964-1985 dictatorship — overstepping constitutional bounds and probably changing into instruments in an antidemocratic marketing campaign.

Earlier this yr, accompanied by prime adviser Gen. Augusto Heleno, Bolsonaro said the armed forces “will not perform the role of just rubber stamping the electoral process, or taking part as spectators.” He urged the army may conduct a parallel depend of the outcomes. The Protection Ministry additionally despatched dozens of questions and solutions to the electoral authority for potential enhancements.

Negotiations with the electoral authority’s president, Alexandre de Moraes, appeared to bear fruit final week. The Protection Ministry acknowledged the success of checks carried out on the digital machines. And de Moraes accepted the ministry’s proposal to run public pre-election checks utilizing biometrics, with voters recognized by fingerprints and images. It isn’t clear whether or not such a system might be carried out for the election’s first spherical on Oct. 2.

Any last-minute modifications, even when adopted with the most effective intentions, may trigger instability or create vulnerabilities, in keeping with Lindeman, of Verified Voting. ___ Bridi reported from Brasilia. Related Press author Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta, Georgia, contributed to this report.

Source link