Electronic voting machine: what is it, when did it appear, security

THE electronic voting machine it is the device used in our country to count the votes of the population in elections. Through it, the Brazilian population chooses its candidates, and the calculation of the results is completely digital. The implementation of this system took place throughout the 1980s and 1990s, with the progressive computerization of the brazilian electoral system.

The creation of the electronic voting machine was already foreseen in the Electoral Code of 1932, but its creation in fact only happened in 1995. Its first use in Brazil took place in the municipal elections of 1996, when 57 cities used the polls. The ballot box was implemented in all Brazilian cities in the elections held in 2000.

Check it out on our podcast: Elections in Brazil: from the origin to the present

Topics in this article

  • 1 - Summary about the electronic voting machine
  • 2 - What is the electronic voting machine?
  • 3 - Context of creation of the electronic voting machine
  • 4 - History of the electronic voting machine
  • 5 - Is the electronic voting machine safe?
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Electronic voting summary

  • The computerization of the Brazilian electoral system was carried out from the redemocratization of the country.

  • This process aimed to reduce the number of frauds and increase the speed of investigations.

  • In 1995, the project to develop the electronic voting machine resulted in the creation of the Electronic Vote Collector.

  • The electronic voting machine was used for the first time in 57 Brazilian cities in the 1996 municipal election.

  • In 2000, electronic voting machines were used in all Brazilian cities for the first time.

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What is electronic voting machine?

First, it is important to understand what the electronic voting machine is and what its function is. The electronic voting machine is a closed electronic device that has its own CPU, power source and software to ensure its operation. This device is used to register the vote of Brazilian voters during elections.

The electronic voting machine used in Brazilian elections has a keyboard similar to the numeric keypad of a conventional telephone. It is used by voters to enter the number of the candidate for whom they intend to vote. Once the number is entered, the candidate's name, party and a photo appear on the display. With this, the voter can confirm their vote or correct it if any typing error has been made.

The device has an internal memory card that stores the votes in an encrypted way. The objective is to guarantee the security of the information contained therein and to prevent fraud. The counting of votes registered by the polls is entirely digital and done by computers of the Superior Electoral Court.

Connected to it, the machine has the polling station's terminal, a small computer that releases the ballot box so that voters can cast their votes. Currently, a biometric reader is linked to this terminal, used to confirm the voter's identity. Finally, the electronic voting machine owns a small printer that issues a bulletin as soon as the voting period is closed.

Read too: Voter ID — the mandatory document that enables a citizen to vote or stand as a candidate

Context of creation of the electronic voting machine

Voting is one of the most important rights that the Brazilian citizen owns, being one of the symbols of its participation in national politics. The importance of this right is reinforced through Brazilian history, due to the long periods in which the investigations elections were marked by fraud and by the time when the Brazilian population had its right to vote restricted, as during the years of Military dictatorship.

THE redemocratization of our country began in 1985, with the possession of Jose Sarney in the presidency, starting all the effort made in Brazilian politics to rebuild democracy. THE Brazilian Constitution of 1988 was a great symbol of that process. Thus, popular participation in the 1989 presidential election was a demonstration that Brazil was experiencing new times.

The democratization of Brazil was accompanied by the creation of mechanisms that made the election process as clean as possible. At Frauds have always been a big stain on elections in our country throughout the 20th century, and there was a great desire to put an end to this problem.

In addition, with the computerization of the world at the end of the 20th century, new technologies began to be explored to ensure improvements in the Brazilian electoral system. THE computerization ofs elections allowedlaugh that the counting of votes was more fast and impersonal. Let's see how was the history of the creation of the electronic voting machine here in Brazil.

History of the electronic voting machine

THE computerization process of the Brazilian electoral system it started in the 1980s, when the TSE decided to computerize the database of Brazilian voters. As a result, a national registry of Brazilian voters was established, with around 70 million voters. This was the first step towards modernizing the electoral system.

This modernization was something desired since the 1930s, since the Electoral Code established in 1932 spoke of the “use of voting machines, opportunely regulated by the Superior Court”, as stated in its article 57.|1|

Started in the 1980s, the modernization of the system continued in the following decade. ANDn 1994, the TSE used computers to investigate the election result that had taken place that year. It was the first time that this happened in the history of elections in our country, which was only possible because a national network was created that allowed the transmission of information from the calculation.

It was in 1995 that the electronic voting machine was created, and the purpose of this invention, according to Sepúlveda Pertence, president of the TSE at the time, was to keep the human hand away from the investigation to prevent fraud from happening.|2| With this, a project was established to create a device that would allow the vote to be recorded electronically and the count to be digitized.

A team was formed with specialists, such as Paulo Nakaya, Osvaldo Imamura, Mauro Hashioka, Antônio Marcondes, Giuseppe Janino, Oswaldo Catsumi, among others. Through their work, the Electronic Vote Collector, also known by the acronym CEV, emerged. Currently, we know this equipment as an electronic voting machine.

The Electronic Vote Collector was developed as a computerized machine, although its development started from scratch, since the group of experts who worked on this project understood that it was neither feasible nor safe to use a conventional computer to automate the vote.

In 1996, the electronic voting machine was used for the first time in Brazil., being used in municipal elections in 57 cities. In all, more than 32 million people voted using electronic voting machines. In the 2000 elections, they were installed and used in all cities in Brazil, being the first time in our history that this happened.

Read too: Difference between null vote and white vote

Is the electronic voting machine safe?

The success of the electronic voting machine guaranteed the consolidation of this system and made our country's elections one of the safest in the world, in addition to being one of the fastest in the counting of votes. THE The security of the electronic voting machine is constantly verified in public audits that attest to its security against hacker attack.

The security of the vote counting process during elections is of great concern to the Brazilian society, but the Superior Electoral Court has taken all the necessary actions to guarantee this safety. In this way, we can say that yes, the electronic voting machine is safe.

Since this model was implemented in our country in 1996, no there was none identified fraud. In addition, the TSE seeks to protect itself and carry out constant security tests in electronic voting machines. As part of this verification, a public audit is carried out one year before the elections to identify possible security flaws in the devices.

In fact, electronic voting machines undergo more than ten audits, which aim to ensure the security of the electoral process. If any vulnerability is identified, the electoral authorities take the necessary measures to correct the flaw. Different civil society institutions participate in these audits.

In addition, some actions taken during election day reinforce the security of the electoral system. At urns are transported by the Armed Forces,and before the opening of the electoral zone, the zerésima is printed, a report in which the ballot box confirms that there are no votes registered in it. Finally, once voting is over, the president of the polling station issues a bulletin with the total number of votes registered in that box.

Altogether, the Electoral Justice states that the electronic voting machines used in Brazil have more than 30 safety barriers. Remembering that frauds have not yet been recorded in the Brazilian electoral process, a demonstration of its security.


|1| Decree No. 21,076, of February 24, 1932. To access, click on here.

|2| Learn about the history of the Brazilian electronic voting machine, which turns 18 years old. To access, click on here.

Image credits:

[1] rafapress and shutterstock

By Daniel Neves Silva
History teacher

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