Minister Dias Toffoli marked on May 13 (Wednesday) one year as President of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE). Five months after taking possession, the minister held the 2014 General Elections, with over 142,000,000 Brazilians voters able to vote, which corresponds to an increase of 5.17% compared to the 2010 elections.
Approximately 530,000 electronic voting machines were made available to the world’s largest computerized election dispute, and, out of such machines, only 72,000 lacked biometric reader. Also, the Clean Record (Ficha Limpa) Act was enforced for the very first time in a general election.
One of the innovative aspects of last year’s election dispute was the number of 21,677,955 voters that were qualified to being identified by means of fingerprints. The result was positive and reached high levels of recognition during voting.
In order to assure integrity of the programs used in the voting machines, Minister Dias Toffoli recalled that, from August 28 to September 4, 2014, there was the Digital Signing and Sealing Ceremony of the Electoral Systems used in the elections of October, in an event open to the public. “It consisted of the presentation of programs that would be used in the election dispute, in their final versions, to the representatives of all political parties, coalitions, the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) and the Prosecution Office (MP). It is important to mention that, for the very first time, there was no need to reseal the systems,” he pointed out.
In the 2014 Elections, TSE entered into a cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Justice with the purpose of combining efforts for following up public safety indicators.
Another agreement entered into with the Ministry of Defense allowed the support of the Armed Forces in difficult to access locations, as well as the performance of federal forces for contributing to the election dispute safety. The Electoral Court System (JE) has throughout Brazilian history relied on the Armed Forces for logistic support in transporting people and materials and also in contributing to safety and to upholding public policy during elections.
Poll workers that play a crucial role in voting were not ignored by the minister’s assessment. Two million poll workers, including the ones that have volunteered and the ones that have been called, participated in the election dispute.
The President of TSE also pointed out the high level of participation of voters with any type of disability or reduced mobility, who were able to vote in special sections adapted to their needs, a number which corresponded to 148,667 people. The number of special sections in 2014 showed an increase of approximately 80% compared to 2010, with 32,267 sections adapted to people with disabilities being offered.
The Electoral Court System reached 97% of budget execution in 2014 and saved R$ 50,000,000.00 in hiring support personnel for the 2014 Elections, by decentralizing the bidding process that generated expenses of R$ 145,000,000.00.
According to Minister Dias Toffoli, there was also a reduction of R$ 5,000,000.00 in the planned expenses for securing law and order, concerning the covenant with the Army and logistic support of materials and members of the Armed Forces for holding last year’s election dispute.
Another important action that effectively contributed to conducting the electoral process was the adoption of the 2014 computerized elections program.
“The multiple elections program was adopted, in order to simultaneously serve as a tool for an election and a consultation by any citizen, without the need to make specific systems available, as well as the enhanced offer of electoral services in mobile platforms for the constituency (approximately 40,000,000 IPs downloaded applications to Tablets, iPhones and Smart Phones), made available by TSE to the public for following up elections, including the evolution of the counting of votes in the first and second rounds,” the Minister asserted.
TSE has also implemented managerial and graduate education development programs and distance education for approximately 29,000 poll workers for the elections, as well as it has planned and organized on-site acquisition of biometric training multipliers for poll workers. Also in the first year of Minister Dias Toffoli as President of the Electoral Court, there was execution of the Documentary Management Program of the Electoral Court System, completion of the Election Memory project, adaptation of the Google Search Appliance tool, and publication of the Annotated Election Code and Instructions of TSE – 2014 edition, in addition to the 2014 Elections Booklet.
There are currently 24,160,877 voters with collected biometrics. For the 2016 Municipal Elections, TSE held a bidding process for acquiring biometric kits, in order to conduct the following phase of biometric enrollment.
Also in relation to biometrics, the goals for 2015 and 2016 were presented and the Electoral Disciplinary Board rendered decisions in order to discipline the macro schedule, general rules and list of locations to be submitted to the revision procedures referred to in TSE Resolution no. 23,440, of 03.19.2015, within the term mentioned by the Regional Electoral Courts (TREs).
In a hearing in Palácio do Planalto, Minister Dias Toffoli presented to President Dilma Rousseff the proposal for creating the Brazilian Civil Registration (RCN), a centralized identification of the Brazilian citizen to be issued by the Electoral Court System, from birth to death, which will also record occasional changes of marital status and of capacity to exercise civil rights. He stated, “It is important to point out that the Electoral Court System is already liable for reenrolling all Brazilian voters, which will cause RCN implementation to be easier”.
Another important device implemented within TSE was the Electronic Information System (SEI). With the software developed by the Regional Federal Court (TRF) of the 4th Region, the administrative procedures of TSE, such as agreements, payments and personnel management, among others, which currently are in physical format, will only exist in the virtual environment of SEI.
In the beginning of this year, TSE received representatives of TREs for participating in the 1st Strategic Meeting of the Electoral Court System. In such event, participants were given the opportunity to discuss some topics of major repercussion for JE, as well as to assist in defining national guidelines under such specialized court for the years of 2015/2016.
In March, the Court unanimously approved the Strategic Planning of the Superior Electoral Court for the term from 2015 to 2020, containing initiatives that will be divided into projects, plans and actions, prepared by the Court units (TSE Resolution no. 23,439, of 03.12.2015).
As to legal actions related to elections, the President pointed out the modernized aspect of dynamics. “It became possible to notify and assign, on the same day, 100% of actions concerning the 2014 elections, as well as to prepare and publish appellate decisions, without oral notes, within, at most, 48 hours, and to enter opinions of the Electoral Disciplinary Board in the docket within, at most, two hours, followed by the act of immediately sending the actions to the offices of judges-rapporteurs, to be taken under advisement”.
Some implemented actions became prominent, such as: the 2014 Elections Disclosure Center (CDE) and accreditation of 1,032 professionals of different national and foreign communication channels; advertising campaign for raising voters’ awareness about the 2014 election dispute and increased participation of TSE in social media, an important tool for directing communications and assessing the main topics for discussion concerning the Electoral Court System and the election dispute.
In the National Congress, Minister Dias Toffoli followed up the discussion about political reform and bills that are of interest to TSE, such as Bill 7,027/2013, which provides for the creation of offices and duties in the Regional Electoral Courts, intended for the electoral districts and changes to duties of clerks of courts. Other projects of which he became informed are: Bill 7,990/2014, which provides for the creation of Information Technology offices; Bill 7,904/2014, which provides for the creation of GRAEL; and Bill 7,920, which provides for the Career and Salary Plan of the Judicial Branch.
Voting by means of electronic voting machines is one aspect of Brazilian elections that stands out when compared to other countries. In this sense, the administration of Minister Toffoli strengthened the cooperation of TSE with regional forums and electoral departments of other countries. Furthermore, foreign authorities paid a visit to TSE in order to know about the electronic voting system and the electronic voting machine and, on such occasion, they entered into technical cooperation agreements concerning elections.
From June to August 2014, Minister Dias Toffoli paid a visit to the National Electoral Commission of Angola and participated in the 4th Iberian-American Conference on the Electoral Court System, in Mexico.
In turn, during elections, the Court received the visit of representatives of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) - a U.S. organization dedicated to strategic studies on international relations - and, in cooperation with Joaquim Nabuco program, it welcomed judges and public servants from Bolivia, Uruguay and Chile for discovering the Brazilian electoral system.
Between the first and second rounds, the President of TSE participated in the seminar “Expressions of Citizenship in France and Brazil”, organized by the Embassy of France in Brazil, and in the seventh edition of the Democracy Forum of Bali, in Indonesia. In October, the Brazilian Electoral Court System was part of the mission of observers of Usan in the Bolivian elections and received delegations of 21 countries and 3 international agencies invited to witness the national elections.
In the second round, 101 diplomats of 72 countries and of the European Union attended lectures concerning the Brazilian election process and witnessed the counting of votes for the President of Brazil. The delegations of Argentina and Iran also witnessed the voting in a school in Brasília.
After the elections, Minister Dias Toffoli represented the Electoral Court System in the 9th Inter-American Meeting of Electoral Authorities, in Lima, Peru, which was attended by members of 23 countries and was promoted by the Organization of American States (OAS), the National Jury of Elections (JNE) and the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE) of Peru.
In 2015, the cooperation agreement with the President of the Dominican Electoral Board was strengthened after participation of Minister Toffoli in the 3rd International Forum of Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic.
Due to a lecture on “Judicial Dialogues in the Inter-American Human Rights System” in Pompeu Fabra University, the Minister visited Barcelona, Spain. In New Delhi, India, he participated in a meeting with authorities in order to know about the sole civil registration that is being implemented in such country by means of biometric data (fingerprints and iris) collection and verification of all citizens.
In Santiago, Chile, the President of TSE was invited to present to the board that advises the President Michelle Bachelet the Brazilian experience as to political party funding and control of election expenses.
The minister also participated in a mission of observers of the general elections of Sudan and in the special meeting of the Electoral Board of the Union of South American Nations held in Quito, Ecuador. His most recent international event was in London, where he witnessed the elections of the Parliament of the United Kingdom held on May 7. Before such date, he gave a lecture in the University of Bologna, Italy, on the campaign finance model adopted by Brazil.