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The e-voting system of Brazil is broadly trusted by the population of the country and international observers. It has an effective and consistent mechanism of generating elections results that perfectly represent the choices of the electorate. In a country with population of over 110 million and voters spread over 3200 electoral constituencies, Brazil had the daunting task of ensuring the integrity of the federal, state and municipal election. In the election of October 2002, two million staffs were worked to operate 360,000 kiosk-style electronic machines that tallied the results electronically in minutes after the polls closed. Data was transmitted on secure diskettes or via satellite telephone to central tallying stations, where the results were calculated within hours. In that election, only 1% of polling stations faced the problems with the new technology.
Their aim was to implement an information technology platform that could provide a method for every electorate to vote irrespective of their literacy level, health status and location. Moreover, such a system would be obliged to defend against fraud and address the conventional problem of slow tabulation and result announcement.
An e-voting platform encompassing hardware, software and systems integration was implemented. It essentially provided electorate electronic ballot boxes to securely and accurately cast their votes. The voting machine has a very easy interface, including a clear presentation of voting options, affirmation and rejection choices, pictures of candidates and Braille coding on the buttons to safe universal access for illiterate and blind people.
The voting machine contains two terminals that were installed in each polling station. First one is the voting panel agent terminal has an arithmetical keyboard with a two shapes liquid crystal screen. It is used by the voting panel agent to find a voter's identification number. If he or she is registered in the precinct, his or her name is shown on the screen and the identification is accomplished. The voting panel agent checks the status of the voting machine on the screen and, if available, pushes 'enter' to turn the machine on the ready state. The second one is the voters' terminal. When the voter goes into the booth, the machine must be ready to use. The voter terminal also has one keyboard and a liquid crystal display. The voter finds out his or her preference by inserting their candidate detection number. The screen displays the candidate's name, initials of the party or alliance he or she belongs to and his or her photo, and if these are accurate, voters push enter to confirm. The keyboard has two supplementary keys: the first on is the amendment key that permits voters to start the process again and the second one is the blank vote key that allows the voter to leave him or her vote blank.
Plan and Design of an e-voting system
At the beginning of 1995, The World Bank was funded to the TSE to produce a task force comprising staff from the TSE and the TREs. The purposes of the task force were to stop fraud and to make a strength political participation and inclusion by simplifying the voting system. The previous system was complex where people required finding out the candidate names from a list and also they need to write their name on the ballot paper, but the level of uneducated people in Brazil was very high. It was about 30% of the population. The aim of produce this task force not only to improve the user friendliness of the interface (the ballot paper), but also the knowledge-base required to participate to the process.
Later than six months, the task force represented a proposal for the expansion of a computerized ballot box and called technical experts from Federal ministries to contribute in defining the system's technical desires and qualifications. In September 1995, system's development work was being started by a group of fourteen technical experts and in May 1996, the first copy of the electronic voting machine was released.
In October 1996, first time the machine was tested in the Municipal elections. This test involved all cities and all state capitals with involvement more than 200,000 voters, acquiring 33% of the voters. In general election of 1998, a second test was run for the system. This test involved all cities and all state capitals with involvement more than 400,000 voters, acquiring 67% of the voters. Finally, in the municipal elections of 2000, the system was used for the whole country.
Pros of this system include:
- Enhanced transparency of the electoral process. The totally electronic form of the votes precludes resorting to the counting of votes recorded on paper in case there is a dispute.
- Accurate tabulation of votes and prompt knowledge of return.
- Quicker process of tabulation and announcement of results.
- Reduces voter error which helps to eliminate spoilt or blank votes.
- Consistent and verifiable data.
- Cost effective system.
- Allow remote election such as in embassies in overseas countries.
Cons of this system include:
- Only partial parts of source code accessible to political parties for examination. Some machines use commercial operating systems that are a meticulous cause of concern.
- Lack of testing for the systems performance by the representatives of political parties and other who is interested individually.
- Storing data in floppy disk is a potential risk.
- Screens used are monochromes which are not suitable for people with weak eyesight.
- System is not cohesive as different systems are utilised in different regions.
- The use of numbers to select candidates will be impractical especially if there a lot of numbers to use.
Brazil has built-up the most modern and complicated electronic voting system in the world and has proved that it can work in a country of continental size, using low-cost technology. The electronic voting system of Brazil has a number of virtues that gave the electronic voting system reliability. The quick and un-crowded voting familiarity created a relaxed and almost festive atmosphere at the voting stations. To teach their children, many parents brought their young children with them to the voting booth and show them how they used the machine. Now a day, the judges were not spending time at voting stations to supervising the vote. Instead of that, they are giving the attention to other potential types of electoral fraud, like as political parties manipulating the voting selections at the locality of the voting stations.