On October 3, delegations from 21 countries and three international organisms that were invited to follow this year´s Elections engaged in program activities scheduled for the first day of their visit to Brazil, having attended a presentation on the country´s political and electoral scene. A total of 55 foreign guests met with Justice Dias Toffoli, president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), at Conference Room # 1. After the opening ceremony, Justice Toffoli introduced the visitors to the two appointed speakers: Nelson Jobim, a retired Justice of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), and TSE´s Justice Henrique Neves.
During his speech, Justice Nelson Jobim referred to the three axes that led to the evolvement of the concept of civil rights in Brazil: the determination of who was eligible to vote and to be voted, and the consolidation of democratic representativeness. After making a historical review of Brazil´s electoral democracy from colonial times to date, Justice Jobim discussed the criteria that have added to the establishment of civil rights in Brazil as they are today.
When addressing Brazil´s current electoral process, Justice Jobim explained the computerization of the country´s elections to foreign visitors. He distinctly referred to former TSE´s presidents, Justice Néri da Silveira and Justice Carlos Veloso, who were respectively responsible for the electoral re-registration and the implementation of electronic voting, a system that has been adopted nationwide. He also introduced the audience to the most relevant political parties in Brazil, pointing to the fragmentation of their organization on the state level, and referred to ongoing discussions about the funding of election campaigns.
Justice Henrique Neves
During his speech, Justice Henrique Neves presented an updated overview of this year´s elections to foreign participants, disclosing information on Brazil´s population as well as the demographic profile and number of registered voters. After that, he introduced the audience to the structure of the Electoral Court System, emphasizing the regulatory, jurisdictional and administrative nature of the electoral process.
The issues addressed by TSE´s Justice included the registration of political parties and candidacies, election polls and surveys, free political advertising on radio and TV, rendering of electoral accounts, logistics necessary for the organization of elections, the counting of votes, and the electronic transmission of votes or vote counts. He also reminded the foreign audience about the implementation of a biometric system that recognizes the fingerprints of voters, a system which is currently used by all registered voters in Alagoas, Sergipe and Amapá, in addition to the Federal District.
All 55 foreign guests welcomed the opportunity to closely track the elections of the world´s fourth largest democracy. Ambassador Alfonso Quiñonez, Secretary of External Relations of the Organization of American States (OAS), believes that guests will assimilate Brazil´s experience and bring it to their respective countries. “We were given the opportunity to talk to different Justices of the TSE and we were overwhelmed with the system you developed, with the mechanisms that you implemented and the way you use technology as a means to render elections more transparent to all. This visit is important because international guests may bring the knowledge acquired here to their own countries and have it implemented there”, he said.
João Damião, commissioner of Angola´s National Electoral Commission, believes that being granted the opportunity to follow Brazil´s elections will be very useful for the re-democratization process that his country has been experiencing over the past few years, after a civil war that lasted from 1975 until 2002. “Given that Angola is new to it, being currently at its third election, tracking Brazil´s elections seems to be a valuable opportunity for us to learn from your country´s electoral experience and improve elections at home”, he noted.
Morning activities were finalized after an official photo of the event was taken. The program prepared for foreign visitors comprised activities in the afternoon, when foreign delegates visited the Federal Senate and the Federal Supreme Court (STF). Later that day, the guests returned to the TSE and visited the National Voting Rights Museum. As of October, the international paid visits to electoral sections in Brasilia, São Paulo (SP) and Salvador (BA) under the guidance of the respective Regional Electoral Courts.