Philip Sever, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian law requires that all citizens from the age of 18 – 70 are required to vote in the presidential elections held every 4 years. This has lead to a voter turn out averaging 85%, as opposed to 57% in the US and 59% in the UK.
Those Brazilian’s who do not comply and participate in the process are subject to having their Titulo de Eleitoral (voting card) canceled. Data released by the Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (Superior Electoral Court) on May 6, 2009, revealed that 57,000 Cariocas have had their right to vote revoked, and across Brazil over half a million are now prohibited from voting.
If a citizen is unable to vote, there is a process in which they submit a registered document explaining why. Brazilian’s without a Titulo de Eleitoral, may have difficulties in getting a job, entering higher education, even opening a bank account or receiving a loan. They are also prevented from holding a passport, identity card or CPF.
Wilson Macedo a resident of Nova Iguacu, Zona Norte has been unable to vote for over ten years. “I never attend the ballot box,” said Macedo. Since losing his right to vote he has lost his telemarketing business. Macedo continued “I also cannot open a bank account”.
The voting age in Brazil was been lowered to 16 in 1988, joining Austria, Cuba, and Nicaragua, although those below the age of 18 do not have to vote but may do so voluntarily. In the 1994 Presidential Elections, over 2 Million 16 to 18 year-olds voted, adding to the high voter turnout in Brazil.
To renew one’s voting rights, first a fine of R$70 is required, and an identification document and proof of residence have to be submitted to the Tribunal Superior Eleitoral. After this a new Titulo de Eleitoral will be issued.