Last Monday, March 13th, the president of Superior Electoral Court (TSE), Justice Gilmar Mendes, gave an interview to journalists about the Biennial 2017-2018 Biometric Identification Program. The press conference took place in São Paulo’s Regional Electoral Court (TRE-SP).
The TSE's goal is for all Brazilian voters to be biometrically registered by 2022. Today, more than 50.4 million voters from all of the Federation's units are already biometrically registered, which corresponds to more than 34.4% of the total Brazilian electorate. In addition, 100% of the electorate of the states of Amapá, Alagoas and Sergipe and the Federal District have already submitted their biometric registration, along with 17 state capitals.
TSE expects, in the Biennial 2017-2018 cycle, to reach of 100% of the electorate in the states of Amazonas, Goiás, Paraíba, Piauí, Roraima and Tocantins. In this biennium, the intention is also to register biometrically another 35.5 million voters, being 25.7 million from January to December of 2017 and 9.8 million from January to May of 2018.
By 2018, according to the Electoral Justice planning, 1,256 more cities will have registered their voters. São Paulo, the largest Brazilian electorate, will review 79 municipalities at this stage.
Since the 2000 Municipal Elections, all Brazilians choose their representatives using an electronic ballot box. However, at the time, it was verified that in an electoral procedure still exists a human intervention: in the elector’s identification. This is because at that moment the polling station worker receives the voter’s documents, checks his personal details, types the number in the electronic ballot box, and if the electoral card is part of the section and the voter has not yet voted, the ballot box is released for the voter to vote.
With the adoption of biometrics, the voting process practically excludes the possibility of human intervention. Now, the ballot box is only released for voting when the biometric reader identifies the voter’s fingerprints (a comparison is made between the fingerprints read and the fingerprints stored in the database)
In the 2008 Elections, the biometric system was tested for the first time in the municipalities of São João Batista (SC), Fátima do Sul (MS) and Colorado do Oeste (RO). After the success of the biometric revision in those three cities, the Electoral Justice decided to give continuity, in 2010, to the elector biometric identification in other 57 municipalities. The general elections of that year, 1.1 million voters of 60 municipalities in 23 states voted after being identified by biometric technology.
In 2012, municipal elections with biometric identification were held in 299 municipalities in 24 states and reached more than 8 million voters who were already able to be identified through fingerprinting.
In the 2014 General Elections, about 21 million citizens of 764 municipalities in all states and the Federal District were able to be identified through the biometric reader. And the identification of the voters' fingerprints showed a high level of effectiveness.
In the 2016 municipal elections more than 36 million voters from 1,541 cities underwent biometric identification before voting, and today there are already more than 50 million citizens with the fingerprints registered at the Electoral Court.
The Brazilian electoral database is the largest in Latin America and also one the most reliable, precisely due to the adoption of methods of guaranteeing the unicity and unification of the citizen and data integrity. With a biometric identification, it is possible to introduce an extremely precise element, there is no sense of individualization through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). This technology allows the electronic comparison of ten fingerprints of each registered voter with the fingerprints of all elements not registered on the Electoral Justice’s database.
The comparison made by the AFIS System processes the existing biometric records in the Voters’ National Register, conducting the automated comparison of fingerprints to ensure that the voter registration is unique. Acquired in May 2014 by the Electoral Justice, through a bidding process, the AFIS system allows comparing up to 160 thousand fingerprints a day, which can be expanded if necessary.
Biometrics is the science that performs studies of individuals’ identification by intrinsically unique characteristics. In the case of fingerprints, there will be, almost always, at least one finger that can be used to make the measurement. One cannot pinpoint the emergence of biometric techniques in the history of mankind, but there are records of the use of fingerprints as personal marks in business transactions dating back to approximately 500 B.C.
It is known, however, that the biometric systems themselves only began to emerge in the second half of the twentieth century, following the advance of technology. In the 1990s, there was a great explosion of activities linked to biometrics, and since the beginning of the 2000s, biometric systems have become a part of people's everyday life, such as accessing banks, public agency buildings, etc.