Justice Cármen Lúcia ends TSE tenure marked by efforts on transparency, biometrics and PJe

On 20 November, Justice Cármen Lúcia ended her tenure as President of the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE).

Cármen Lúcia durante a sessão plenária.

On 20 November, Justice Cármen Lúcia ended her tenure as President of the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE). The nearly 19 months of her mandate were marked by the Court's holding of the municipal elections of 2012, the establishment of closer relations with the Regional Electoral Courts (TREs), the implementation of the Electronic Process of Law (PJe) in Electoral Justice, the expansion of the re-registration of voters with collection of biometric data and the adoption of a number of measures to give more transparency and promote a closer relationship with society as a whole.

2012 Elections

In October 2012, the TSE carried out the largest municipal election in the country's history: 5,568 mayors and 57,424 councilors were elected for office in Brazil's municipalities. The first round of the elections happened on 7 October 2012 without incident, with all ballots fully counted at exactly 1:48 AM of the next day. It was a true record for an election of this size, which nevertheless were held at relatively low costs when compared with other elections held since the implementation of electronic voting system (in 1996). The 2012 elections cost R$ 395,270,694.00, or R$ 2.81 per voter. For comparison, the same cost per voter in the 2008 municipal elections was of R$ 3.75, and of R$ 3.86 for the 2010 presidential elections.

To ensure safe and orderly elections, the TSE and the Ministry of Defense signed an agreement establishing guidelines for the work to be conducted by all the institutions involved during municipal elections. As a result of that partnership - which allowed for greater dialogue with local Secretaries of Public Safety and a decrease in the need for deployment of federal security forces in the 2012 Elections - a number of expenses could be reduced when compared to previous elections: the allocated budget for sending federal troops to municipal elections was of R$ 46 million, while actual expenditures were of R$ 24,212,852.91, representing savings of over R$ 21 million from the planned budget.

Another measure focused on the 2012 elections was the creation of the Electoral Justice Accessibility Program, aimed at allowing ample access to electoral services for persons with disabilities. The Program was the result of a meeting between TSE President Cármen Lúcia and the Minister of the Human Rights Secretariat of the Presidency, Maria do Rosário, in which accessibility measures for persons with disabilities in municipal elections were discussed.


Cármen Lúcia's tenure as head of the TSE was also recognized by its transparency initiatives, including the creation of the Citizens Information Center (NIC), which ensures compliance with Brazil's Access to Information Act (Law 12,527/2011). The Center receives and reviews access to information requests and also serves and guides the general public regarding the processing of documents and proceedings being reviewed by operational units of the Court.

In May 2012, same month as when the Access to Information Act was signed into Law, the TSE's President determined the disclosure of her paychecks in the Court's Portal, revealing the amounts she receives as Justice of the TSE and as Justice of the Federal Supreme Court (STF). Subsequently, the salaries received by the Court's staff were also made available on the portal.

Campaigns and communication initiatives

Using the slogan "value your vote, vote for your city, vote clean", the TSE launched its Clean Vote campaign on 21 August 2012. The was campaign broadcasted on radio and television, seeking to encourage voter participation in last year's October election, underscoring the importance of freedom of choice enjoyed by voters and encouraging them to vote for candidates with a clean record.

In 2013, the TSE launched three campaigns. The first, broadcasted in April on radio and television, was a nationwide campaign to encourage voters to regularize their Voter IDs (for those voters who did not vote nor justified their absence for the last three elections). The second, lunched in June, was an awareness campaign on the re-registration of voters with collection of biometric data. In addition to being broadcast on radio and TV, this particular campaign included the creation of a hotsite - still online - aimed at disseminating information on biometrics.

The third campaign, focused on young voters, was launched with the motto "I represent myself: I vote" and the slogan "Come to the ballot" in October, and was also broadcast on radio and TV. The initiative sought to encourage citizens between 16 and 17 - for whom voting is possible, but optional - to seek an electoral notary office to obtain their Voter ID and actively participate in the 2014 elections. As part of the campaign, the Court also held the so-called Young Voter Week between 21-25 October. During the week, the TREs created a number of actions to encourage teenagers to exercise their right to vote.

Another communication initiative of highlight during Justice Cármen Lúcia's tenure was the National Meeting of Communication Offices of the Electoral Justice, held in March 2013 at the headquarters of the TSE in Brasilia. The event gathered communication officers from 26 Regional Electoral Courts (TREs), who had the opportunity to hear renowned professionals of the area and to discuss improvements to the press offices of Electoral Justice bodies.

The TSE has also launched its International Portal in June this year. The goal is to establish a channel of communication with foreign readers who do not know Portuguese but are interested in the Brazilian Electoral Justice. The website will also serve as a hub for the dissemination of foreign news regarding Electoral Law and election-related processes of international relevance. The portal can be accessed at http://english.tse.jus.br.

In July this year, the TV Justiça channel presented the series "New perspectives on time - Memories of Democracy", produced by the TSE. The series' 17 episodes tell the history of elections in Brazil, from 1988 to present day, from the perspective of former Presidents of the TSE and other personalities who actively participated in building the country's electoral process. The last video of the series premiered on Saturday (16), and the episodes are also available on the TSE's YouTube channel.

Last October, the "Brazil Eleitor" ("Voter Brazil") show, produced under supervision of the TSE's journalist team, was awarded best National TV Program in the 11th edition of the National Award for Communication and Justice. The award is an initiative by the National Forum for Communication and Justice (FNCJ), and was delivered at the closing ceremony of the IX Brazilian Congress of Communication Officers of the Justice System (Conbrascom 2013) in São Paulo.

Electronic voting and biometrics

The expansion of voter re-registration with collection of biometric data to all states and the Federal District is another mark left by Justice Cármen Lúcia's tenure at the TSE. In 2013 re-registration was taken to the states of Amazonas and Roraima and to the Federal District, which until then had not yet been re-registered. The goal is to have over 14 million voters re-registered by March 2014, which will allow for about 22 million people to be identified by their fingerprints to vote in next year's municipal elections.

To date, more than 7.5 million voters have already been re-registered. More information can be found on the Biometric Re-registration website (in Portuguese).

Other measures were also taken (in addition to the re-registration) to ensure the electoral process is as safe and secure as possible, including the performance of preliminary tests of the electoral systems to used in 2014. Technicians from the TSE and from the TREs across the country have conducted a series of simulations in the electronic voting machine software and related systems in order to detect any flaws in their design with sufficient time for adjustments.

Electronic Process of Law

One of the main projects undertaken in Cármen Lúcia's tenure ahead of the TSE, the Electronic Process of Law (PJe) of the Electoral Justice was established by Resolution 23,393 published on 18 October this year. The norm, adopted by the Plenary of the Court on 10 September, defines the PJe as the "computerized system for creation and processing of legal proceedings in this branch of law, which shall conduct the processing of judicial information and the management of procedural acts." The resolution also establishes the parameters for its implementation and operation.

Meetings with TREs and visits

During her tenure, Justice Cármen Lúcia held several meetings - the first of which days after his inauguration - with the Presidents of the TREs, both to prepare the municipal elections of 2012 and to begin work aimed at the general elections of 2014. She also visited the headquarters of the Regional Courts in the states.

In her meetings with the Presidents of the TREs, Justice Cármen Lúcia would often report advances made on biometric reregistration of voters and on the implementation of the PJe in the Electoral Courts. Justice Lúcia was keen to emphasize that making progress in the implementation of the PJe was a priority in her administration.

There were also technical meetings between TSE and TRE representatives to evaluate how the rendering of accounts would take place for the 2012 elections. Justice Cármen Lúcia also opened the "1st Superior Court of Audit-Electoral Justice Technical Meeting", as well as another meeting with representatives from the two bodies, to strengthen the partnership between them.

Justice Lúcia visited the headquarters of TREs and related facilities, where she obtained a general overview of the progress in biometric re-registration, and also the headquarters of the Courts of Justice of the states, by invitation of their respective Presidencies. During many events held in the TREs and in other courts, Justice Lúcia would often take the opportunity to highlight the role of Brazilian Electoral Justice in the formation of our citizenship and for democracy.

In May this year, for example, while visiting the Electoral Court of São Luís (MA) to get to know the infrastructure created by that state's TRE to conduct biometric re-registration, the President of the TSE said that "the Electoral Justice has an obligation to reach out to the citizens”.


During President Cármen Lúcia's tenure, the TSE also launched photo gallery of General Electoral Corregidors and held the exhibition "Voting in Brazil: a History of Exclusions and Inclusions ", which will be open to visitors, including students, until 19 December. She also opened the Court's facilities for the launch of Brazil's Justice Yearbook 2013.

Besides all these activities, Brazil's Electoral Justice also mobilized the TSE and many of its TREs to participate in the Ação Global (Global Action) project in 2013, providing electoral services such as Voter ID issuance and reissuance to thousands of citizens on special weekend events.

The President of the TSE was also a speaker at the 62nd Meeting of Brazil's Permanent College of Corregidor-Generals of the Courts of Justice (the Encoge) in Ouro Preto - MG.

In October, the TSE promoted the course "Education and Training in Combating Corruption and Money Laundering." The course was attended by staff from the TSE, from the TREs and from a number of other government bodies, including the Federal Police, the General Attorney's Office and the Inland Revenue Service of Brazil. The Court also held other prominent events, such as the Seminar on Electronic Document Management of the Judiciary and the 10th Seminar on Electoral Justice Tenders and Contracts.

In November, at the end of Justice Cármen Lúcia's tenure, the TSE hosted an International Seminar called "Impact of Decisions by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court)" as part of its 49th Special Session. The event was held in Brazil with the purpose of bringing the I/A Court closer to the Brazilian people, since the country is one of the many recipients of its decisions.

Visits and international meetings

The TSE has also received delegates from various countries interested in knowing more about the Brazilian electoral system. The Court has been visited for this purpose by representatives from Portuguese Language Countries, Iraq, Burkina Faso and the European Union.

In April this year, the TSE monitored the presidential elections in Venezuela and Paraguay. German judges visited the Court in May this year to learn about the electronic voting machine, followed by judges and Judiciary staff from Bolivia, Uruguay and Chile in June.

Justice Lúcia took part in international meetings to present the Brazilian electoral system abroad, including an international conference in Peru, a Seminar on Electoral Law in Mexico City, and a meeting of the Venice Commission (also in Mexico City).

Plenary decisions

Decisions of high social outreach and of high relevance for the 2014 elections have been taken over the last eighteen months on the TSE plenary, such as the one that defined that political manifestations in Twitter do not constitute electoral publicity.  

Another highlight was the decision that redefined the number of federal representatives per state, which led to changes in the basic composition of the country's Legislative Assemblies and Federal District Chambers.

In 2013, the TSE also approved the registration of two parties: the Solidarity Party and the Republican Party of Social Order (PROS), while denying registration to the Sustainability Network for lack of the minimum signature support required to obtain registration. Today Brazil has 32 party associations registered with the TSE.

On her last session as Justice and President of the Court, this Thursday (14), Cármen Lúcia presented a balance of her procedural load. According to Justice Lúcia, 5,700 proceedings were judged during her tenure. Also according to her, an average of nearly 90 cases were tried per session, and in total 22,986 single-judge decisions have been issued, most of them dismissing the cases.