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One of the purposes of democracy is the political participation of the people, which has the vote as its main form of expression. The right to vote was restricted in different periods of the Brazilian history, and the electoral legislation progressively changed the profile of voters.
During the colonial period, the only conditions were that the voter should be at least 25 years old and reside in the district. During the Empire (1822-1889), the minimum age continued to be 25 years old, with the exception of the military officials and married citizens, who were able to vote at the age of 21. However, the vote was linked to the pecuniary census and excluded the clergy and those who lived in cloistral communities, as well as freed slaves, servants, remunerated soldiers and public officials. In 1882, the illiterate lost their right to vote with the Saraiva Law, which established the "literary census." During the Old Republic (1889-1930), the minimum age was changed to 21 years old, and the vote based on pecuniary census was abolished.
The Code of 1932 extended electoral citizenship to women. Celina Guimarães Vianna, from the city of Mossoró (state of Rio Grande do Norte), was the first female voter in Brazil.
The Constitution of 1934 established the minimum age of 18 years old for voting. During the military régime, which began in 1964, there was no progress regarding the right to vote in the electoral legislation.
The Constitutional Amendment No. 25/1985 reinstated the illiterates' right to vote, although it was no longer compulsory.
Finally, the Constitution of 1988 ordered the electoral enrollment and vote to be mandatory for those who were 18 or older, and optional for those over 70 years old and between the ages of 16 and 18.