© Gloria Lin and Nicole Espinoza 2007

Stanford University

Brazil is an example of a country with a thriving electronic voting system.  In 2000, it became the first country to have elections completely by an electronic voting system and has since remained at the forefront of the electronic voting movement. 

Electronic Voting Machines for Brazilian elections were developed and first tested in the 1996 elections in Santa Catarina.  Thereafter it was used in national elections in 1998, when it then became the only voting method for the 2000, 2002, 2004, and the most recent 2006 elections. 

Through these election cycles, the voting system has changed – most notably in the operation system running on the machines.  This effort to constantly build upon and improve the voting system is likely part of the reason for its strong success.  In Brazil, the research and development of electronic voting systems is funded by the Brazilian Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), which is also currently testing ways to improve the system, such as by using a digital screens and printing systems.  These improvements likely have been a significant source of voter satisfaction, and will continue to emphasize the government’s commitment to a fair and effective system in the future.

Interestingly, the code for the software on the Electronic Voting Machines has not been released to the public, despite the call for freely available source code in many electronic voting circles.  Just as in the majority of systems in place in the United States and France, companies are protecting this information, refusing to release it to the public under the protection of intellectual property rights.

As with any electronic system, security issues with Brazil’s voting systems are largely focused on the issue of voter verifiability.  Pedro A. D. Rezende, from the Department. of Computer Science at the University of Brasilia has said that, “the most important democracy of our times is now debating the convenience and possible effects of legal measures enforcing voter verifiability in electronic systems” and that “Brazil is, indeed, ahead of its time.”

Brazil, it seems, has many positive factors working together to create a durable and trusted system for government and voters, alike. Although no election is ever without some controversy, Brazil has also maintained a relatively trouble-free experience with its electronic voting approach and serves as a good model for other similar countries looking to fully integrate these systems.

Electronic Voting


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Source: José San Martin, Agência Brasil