Abstention of voters to put burden on taxpayers

Imagem mostrando a urna eletrônica.

A survey carried out by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) indicated that the abstention of voters (failure to appear to vote) translates into financial losses to the country. In the General Elections of 2010, such impact amounted to R$ 195.2 million, considering both the first round and the run-off vote that were held that year. The TSE came to that figure after calculating the average cost of each ballot cast in the elections that took place that year, that is R$ 3.63 per voter.
“When organizing the Elections, the TSE has to put up a structure capable of attending all eligible voters. As more than 24 million people failed to appear to vote in the first round of elections held that year, a total of R$ 89.3 million in public funds was wasted because of their lack of attendance”, explains Athayde Fontoura, director-general of the TSE.
Abstention figures grew higher in the run-off vote that took place that year. Approximately 29 million voters failed to appear to vote on October 31, which translated into an estimated loss of R$ 105 million. Such financial losses amount to R$ 195.2 million if both rounds are taken into account. Even if voting was not a compulsory right, the Electoral Court System would still be legally responsible for preparing the elections, and for attending all eligible voters.
In case blank and spoiled ballots – which express the dissatisfaction of voters who went to the polls but chose not to vote on any of the running candidates – are counted, an extra amount of R$ 60.7 million is to be added to these losses. The Electoral Court System registered 3.4 million blank ballots and 6.1 million spoiled ballots that were cast nationwide in the first round of elections that year. Regarding the run-off vote, the number of blank ballots reached 2.4 million, and the number of spoiled ballots, 4.6 million.
In addition to financial losses, abstention often causes a civic impact. Justice Marco Aurélio, president of the TSE, noted that society usually feels as a victim of bad politicians, but it is, in fact, the perpetrator of that uncomfortable feeling, as it decides who wins the elections. “One rather err by doing something than by refraining from doing it”, repeats Justice Marco Aurélio when questioned about the abstention of eligible voters.
Aiming at encouraging the participation of eligible voters in this year´s elections, the TSE has been carrying out institutional campaigns to raise awareness of the population on the relevance of voting. The hashtag “#vempraurna” (“#cometotheballotbox”) and the slogan “your vote is worth the whole Brazil” urge voters to participate in the General Elections of 2014, which the Court regards as “the celebration of democracy”.
According to data presented by Justice Marco Aurélio at the TSE on May 9, six million voters have been added to the electoral register of 2010. The first partial assessment of the electoral registration, which closed on May 7, indicates the existence of 141.8 million Brazilians that are eligible to vote in October, an increase if compared with the figures of 2010, which pointed to 135.8 million eligible voters.  The TSE will disclose the total number of eligible voters by the second half of July.