Brazilian elections, 2008

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.

Leaflet carpet

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?

6 respostas em “Brazilian elections, 2008

  1. I’m (unfortunatelly) member of the electoral process since I was 18 and when they introduced the voting machines we had a lot of trouble with people doing wrong things and leaving us near to the madness. That year we had to stay at the electoral place since 7 AM up to 8 PM (the normal process begins on 7 AM and ends up by 5 PM). The number of candidates were huge too: five. President, state governor, senator, federal deputy and state deputy. It was a completely mess, sometimes requiring the introduction of the “Tropa de Choque” Police, a kind of specialized police prepared for conflicting situations to calm down the mass of furious people.

    Well, returning to the purpose of this post, the introduction of GNU/Linux was a big advance in the process like Leonardo said: “But free software has other advantages, like allowing political parties to audit the source code as well, and saving money.”
    In my humble opinion, we saved money on several parts: hardware (once some voting machines uses obsolete components, like a Cyrix 586 Processors. Do you remember of them?), TCO and much more.

    But, according with the president of our electoral section, the terminals were delaying more time to free the device of management of the the machines. I don’t know. To me it were as fast as on older elections. If true, this should be resolved quickly by our specialists that created this incredible voting system.

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