Today in Brazil we are voting for city mayors and councilmen (councillors). The Brazilian elections are very interesting, because our Supreme Electoral Court is always improving the process. We were the first country to have completely electronic elections, and this year all of the new (50 thousand) voting machines are running GNU/Linux. (There still are hundreds of thousands of legacy machines based on Windows CE.) There are other initiatives to prevent fraud and to prevent bad politicians to be elected.
The Windows CE voting machines were not a great source of sovereignty concerns, because Microsoft allows national authorities to audit the source code, and the voting application was developed in Brazil. But free software has other advantages, like allowing political parties to audit the source code as well, and saving money. This is important to prevent what happened in 1982, when the military dictatorship frauded
voting machines the electronic vote counting system in favor of their candidate to the Rio de Janeiro governorship. This incident is mentioned in the Beyond Citizen Kayne documentary film, which explores the influence of Rede Globo media group in the Brazilian society.
Planet GNOME readers will probably be familiar with Richard Stallman’s opposition to voting machines, no matter if they run free software or not. Brazil audits their voting machines to prevent large scale electoral frauds. There are also ongoing efforts to make the elections even more immune to frauds, like an experiment with biometric voting machines (with fingerprint recognition), and a discussion around printing votes to allow a recount if demanded.
Technology apart, this year the Supreme Electoral Court made some restrictions on the electoral publicity, to decrease the advantage of candidates with large electoral funds. As a consequence, candidates became paranoid and were asking their party lawyers before doing pretty much anything. Partly because of that, Brazilian cities were considerably cleaner this year then in the last elections. The only exception, for me, was the extensive amount of leaflets in the sidewalks today, which made me very sad.
Another theme this year were the candidates with a dirty record. The Supreme Electoral Court considered rejecting nominations of politicians being judged for crimes that would make them ineligible if they are considered guilty. The project was rejected, with a very narrow difference between supporters and opposers, but the Brazilian Association of the Magistrates published the list of candidates with a dirty record, and that list was widely used in political debates.
P.S.: It’s 19:39 local time, and we already know the results for many cities. By 22:00, we should know the complete results for this year’s elections in one of the largest countries in the world. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?