On Thursday (31), the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) and the Ministry of Defense signed an agreement establishing the guidelines that will apply to their coordinated efforts regarding the General Elections of 2014. The said instrument, which sets forth rules of conduct and provisions on the participation of Brazil´s Armed Forces during this year´s elections, was signed by Justice Dias Toffoli, president of the TSE, and Celso Amorim, Minister of Defense, in a ceremony held at the President´s Office.
The ceremony for the signing of the aforementioned agreement was attended by General Enzo Martins Peri, commander of the Brazilian Army; Air Force General Juniti Saito, commander of Brazil´s Air Force; an official representing Brazil´s Navy; Admiral Carlos Augusto de Sousa, head of Brazil´s Armed Forces; and Major General Carlos Eurico Peclat, head of the Joint Staff of Brazil´s Armed Forces.
The participation of Brazil´s Armed Forces is to be implemented in two different levels: to maintain law and order at specific locations as determined by the Court, and to provide logistics support at events pinpointed in advance by the TSE.
“The joint efforts implemented by the Electoral Courts and Brazil´s Armed Forces in numerous municipalities are of paramount importance. During the elections of 2012, thanks to valuable logistics support, electronic voting machines were brought to more than 70 municipalities located in remote regions of the country, notably in areas that are commonly qualified as hard to reach, enabling local citizens to exercise their voting rights”, said Justice Dias Toffoli.
The president of the TSE also pointed to the relevance of the agreement to enforce security at the state level. “We have issued resolutions that address this kind of need, establishing that state governors must be heard in advance so as to entitle the administration of concerned states to release a statement reporting that they lack the conditions to properly enforce security. In other words, no intervention occurs. The Electoral Courts, the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces are not to act unless they are asked to. We have rules that establish that state governors must be heard first”, he concluded.
Celso Amorim, the Minister of Defense, pointed to the significance of the ministry´s support to the organization of the elections, and said that it will be provided with the usual efficiency with which the ministry responds to other assignments. “I find it quite important, especially because such support is provided during a crucial moment for democracy, that is, the moment in which citizens get to vote. In addition to being a job that we are constitutionally required to perform, it is a great honor to be able to demonstrate in practice the commitment of the Brazilian Armed Forces to the strengthening of democracy in our country. There is a growing integration between the Armed Forces and the Brazilian society that delivers greater transparency to all developed actions. That being said, it is within such context that I deem this job to be relevant for our country”.
Electoral Courts have been traditionally counting on the logistics support of Brazil´s Armed Forces to ensure the transportation of people and materials, and to help enforce security and maintain public order during the elections.
As provided for in the signed agreement, Armed Force´s troops are to help with the organization of elections only upon authorization of the Ministry of Defense, and in response to a request forwarded by the TSE to the president of Brazil.
The troops shall act only as to ensure that the elections are effectively held and that the count of votes is performed in compliance with the legislation in place, with the instructions of the competent electoral judicial authority, and under the guidance of higher ranking officials.
Requests for the Support of Armed Forces at the Federal Level
With respect to the organization of elections, Electoral Courts commonly request two types of services: logistics support to ensure the transportation of materials, voting machines and people to locations that are hard to reach, and troop support to help maintain law and order. Regional Electoral Courts have so far submitted 63 requests for logistics support in hard-to-reach areas, which are located in five different states (AM, AC, AP, MS, RO).
Read the full text of the agreement.