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On Wednesday (31/08), Superior Electoral Court (TSE) President Alexandre de Moraes, and Defense the Minister Paulo Sérgio Nogueira, had a second meeting to discuss the voting machines security. At the end of this event, the court released a note, which was signed by the two parts, highlighting that the electoral system is reliable and that the ballot box integrity test carried out periodically is correct. According to inside sources, this may have put an end to a controversy between the two sides.

The Controversy

For the critics, the Armed Forces would be using its position in the Elections Transparency Commission, whose function is to improve the electoral process, to pursue a “political campaign” to discredit the electoral system set by the Federal Government. This occurred because lately, the Armed Forces have questioned several aspects of the electoral system. They also complained of not being “prestigious” by the TSE and demanded “technical discussion” about a list of improvements to the voting system sent by themselves to the electoral court.

Since 2021, President Jair Bolsonaro has been stating the Brazilian electoral system is unreliable; that the electronic voting machines are prone to frauds; and that they have been rigged before. He even demanded the return of a form of printed votes, alleging that it would be a solution for the problem. Even though, no evidence has been shown.

Integrity Test

At the end of the meeting, Moraes committed to analyzing a project to test the integrity of ballot boxes on election day using biometrics.

The test consists of a voting simulation with the objective of proving that the vote entered is the same that will be counted. This test is carried out on the eve of the elections, in selected polling stations, which receive three to four ballot boxes to participate in the control.

The suggestion had already been made by the Armed Forces within the scope of the Electoral Transparency Commission. TSE technicians had been considering the hypothesis unfeasible because it requires convincing enough people to come to the test site after normally voting in at the polling place. In addition, there would be a risk of weakening the secrecy of the vote, because the act will be repeated by the voter in the test.

This was one of the requests previously made by the Defense Ministry, but it clashed with the resistance of Moraes’ predecessor at the head of the TSE, Edson Fachin. According to the minister’s advisors, the assessment will be carried out by technical teams from the TSE and Defense to verify the feasibility of adopting the measure this year.

A Test of Political Stability

The test to verify if the Government has really decided to stop questioning the electoral system’s reliability will be the September 7 commemorations. For political analysts, if the President does not do what he did last year, when he made a speech criticizing the electronic voting machines, then it is likely that a new stance has been adopted. This could also mean a way to end an institutional crisis with the Judiciary.

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