By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – In less than one week and a half, 142.8 million eligible voters will cast their ballots in Brazil. Citizens will cast their vote for President, the governor of one of the 27 states, almost half of the Senate and all of the representatives for the Chamber of Deputies.
Executive officers as well as federal and state representatives are elected to a four-year term, while senators are elected to eight-year terms. In Brazil, officials elected for the executive branch are only allowed to run for one re-election, while legislative representatives can run for as many terms as they wish.
According to the latest official data there are 22,791 candidates in this year’s general elections, including eleven for President, 166 for state governor, 170 for senator and over six thousand for federal representatives. In the election for the executive offices (president and governor) a candidate must receive fifty percent plus one vote of the valid votes to be elected in the first round of voting.
If none of the candidates for a particular position are able to reach that goal there will be a second round with the two top contenders. In the second round of elections, held on October 26th, the candidate with the simple majority wins.
In Brazil the vote is mandatory for those between the ages of 18-70 and option for those between 16-18 years old and those seventy years and older. Those who do not vote or do not present a justification are fined and unable to obtain a passport.
Brazil’s indigenous population is also required to vote but will not be fined if they do not. There are an estimated 897,000 indigenous living in Brazil today and indigenous communities have traditionally withheld from voting in elections. Seventy-eight candidates are indigenous, and to encourage this population to vote, the TSE has installed several voting centers in indigenous reserves.
This year fifteen percent, approximately 21.6 million Brazilians in 762 cities will have to identify themselves through biometric data, using their fingerprints. The rest will have to bring their national identification card to present to officials before casting their ballot. Voting in Brazil is conducted through electronic voting machines.
At least 170 municipalities in the states of Maranhão, Pará, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte and Tocantins, have asked federal troops to help with security during election day. Voters cannot be arrested five days prior to elections and up to 48 hours after voting stations close, unless they are caught committing a crime or officials are carrying out a previous incarceration order. Candidates cannot be arrested fifteen days prior to election day.
According to the TSE (Supreme Electoral Court) the government has prepared and sealed voting machines to be used in the casting of ballots abroad. A total of 919 voting machines will be sent to 134 locations in 96 countries. According to the electoral board 354.1 thousand Brazilians are eligible to vote abroad.