Biometric identification of voters is legally accepted

Fingerprint identification systems will digitally identify more than 23 million Brazilian voters from 791 municipalities across the country for the occasion of the General Elections, which will be held in October 2014.

Fingerprint identification systems will digitally identify more than 23 million Brazilian voters from 791 municipalities across the country for the occasion of the General Elections, which will be held in October 2014. Voters were called to participate in mandatory biometric re-registration, which consists of a review of voters’ information through the update of their records at the Electoral Court System and direct capturing of voters’ fingerprints and facial pictures. The aforementioned reviewing procedure is provided for in two statutes, and in six resolutions issued by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE).
Law n. 7,444/1985 and Law n. 9,504/1997 (the Elections Law) provide the legal grounding for electoral review. As established in Article 92 of Law n. 9,504, the TSE, when processing voters’ cards, “shall determine the review or correction of the distribution of Electoral Areas whenever: the total number of voter area transfers in the current year is 10% higher than that of the previous year; the electorate is more than twice as large as the combined population aged between 10 and 15 and over 70 years in the territory of that municipality;  the electorate exceeds 65% of the population forecast for that year as determined by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE)”.
Article 3 of Law n. 7,444 establishes that the review of the electorate “will be carried out in compliance with the regulations issued by the Superior Electoral Court”. The Electoral Code (Law n. 4,737/1965) also provides for the authority of the Electoral Court to issue resolutions. Article 23, item IX of the said Code establishes that: “Additionally, the Superior Court has reserved power to: issue the regulations deemed appropriate for the implementation of this Code”.
Vested in the above-referred power, the TSE issued the following regulations on the matter: Resolutions n. 21,538/2003; n. 22,688/2007; n. 23,061/2009; n. 23,335/2011; n. 23,345/2011; and n. 23,366/2011. Resolution n. 21,538, which was issued first, establishes the cases and peculiarities of electoral review in Articles 58 to 76, and even features provisions establishing that the court may cancel, on its own motion, “registrations related to voting cards that were not submitted to review”.
The other five resolutions, in turn, provide for the update of electoral registration that uses the new voters’ identification technology, which incorporates biometric data and facial pictures of voters, and which is to occur in municipalities previously selected by Regional Electoral Courts (TREs). Resolution n. 23,335/2011 even refers to the record of voter’s digital signature, which has been gradually implemented by the Electoral Court System during the biometric registration procedures.
In March 2014, the Electoral Court System will complete the third phase of electoral review by collecting biometric data. By the end of this phase, it will be possible to use fingerprint identification systems to detect the identity of more than 23 million voters, as 7.7 million voters have already re-registered during the first two reviewing phases, and other 14 million voters are in process of completing the same procedures.
If you wish to know whether electoral review is being carried out in your municipality, go to the Biometric Re-registration website.


Increased safety
Brazil’s Electoral Court System has been developing numerous technologies in order to ensure a safer and truly democratic voting system. Biometrics is its latest development, and is aimed at ensuring increased safety and accuracy, preventing errors regarding voters’ identification. Such precision is made possible because of the individuality and uniqueness of fingerprints, that is, no two humans have identical fingerprints. In brief, the use of this new technology during the elections should prevent one voter from using someone else’s voter’s card, which helps making the voting procedure a fraud-free environment.