Parties, OAB and MP can follow the development of systems of elections

As of 7 April), all computer software by the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) that will be used by the electronic voting machines during the vote may be consulted and analyzed by political parties, the Bar Association of Brazil (OAB) and the General Attorney's Office.

Since April 7, representatives of political parties, the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) and the Public Prosecution Service (MP) can track the phases of specification and software development for electronic polling stations and other electoral systems to be used in the 2014 Elections. People interested in the matter can consult and analyze the programs in the Presentation Room (Room A-361) of the headquarters of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), in Brasilia, Monday to Friday from 8h to 18h.

The procedure is laid down in Law No. 9,504/1997 (Article 66, paragraph 1) and the TSE Resolution No. 23,397/2013, which provides for the ceremony of digital signing and verification of the electronic voting system, the digital record of the vote, the parallel voting and procedures for data security of electoral systems. All software and electoral systems have been developed by the Department of Information Technology of the TSE.

Such monitoring can be done until the eve of the Digital Signing and Sealing of Electoral Systems Ceremony, which will be held 20 days before the election. This year, the ceremony will take place 15-17 September, when all software to be used in the elections, when completed, will be submitted for analysis to accredited representatives of political parties and coalitions, in the form of source programs and executable programs.

After being presented and inspected by participants of the ceremony, the programs will be compiled and digitally signed by the representatives of political parties, coalitions, OAB and MP who show interest, besides being tested and digitally signed by the TSE. Finally, all electoral systems already compiled, that is, in their final versions will be written in non-rewritable media, physically sealed and sent to the Court vault, where they will be stored. Private electronic keys and electronic access passwords will be kept under secrecy by the Electoral Court.

Then the signed and sealed electoral systems will be distributed through the Electoral Court private network to the Regional Electoral Courts (TREs). As a further security measure, such programs may only work on computers of the Electoral Court, being activated by passwords generated by the TSE. Thus, even if the systems are intercepted, there is no possibility of installing files on external computers.

After the election, political parties may also inspect, by scheduling, the source programs used in the elections in the same Room A-361 of the TSE headquarters. It can be made until the next election.

Summary and digital signature

In addition to adding even more transparency to the election process, the goal of these procedures is to show society that electoral systems are extremely safe. This is because besides the identification of authenticity for digital summaries, all programs in the electronic polling station are physically and digitally sealed, after receiving the digital signature, and stored in a maximum-security vault.

A digital signature is a cryptographic technique used to ensure that a content, in this case a digital file, can be verified mainly in regard to its integrity. In other words, its goal is to ensure that the computer program was not modified either intentionally or unintentionally, and did not lose its original characteristics for failure in reading or writing. This means that if the digital signature is valid, the file has not been modified.

The digital signature is also used to ensure the authenticity of the program, or to confirm that the program has been generated by the TSE. In this case, only those who digitally signed may have generated that particular digital signature.

The digital summary, on the other hand, also called cryptographic hash is a cryptographic technique which resembles a check digit. Given a digital file, you can calculate a digital summary of this file with a public algorithm (mathematical method known to all). In the case of polling station systems, the hashes of all the files are calculated and these summaries are published on the TSE Portal.