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The difference between a referendum and a plebiscite.

Referendum is a democratic tool used to consult with the population about a law already constituted, according to Art. 14 section II of the Federal Constitution. This consult is made through a poll, where the citizens vote directly and secretly about specifics and relevant issues to the population. In Brazil, a referendum is different from a plebiscite. The plebiscite is a consult made before the creation of a law and the referendum is a consult about a law that has already been created. The citizens choose if they accept or decline what is being asked to them. It is also possible to held a plebiscite or a referendum for matters that concern only to a region or a single municipality, there is no need to be a relevant question for the whole country.


For the 2012 Elections, the Secretary of Information Technology of the TSE developed a software that allows the elector to use the electronic voting machine for both to vote in their candidates and to answer a public consult such as a plebiscite or a referendum. This improvement has reduced the costs of these popular consults, because before the development of the new system, it was necessary to use two different electronic voting machine at the poll stations, one for the normal elections and one for the plebiscite or referendum.