By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Some 140 million Brazilians are heading to the polls on Sunday in nationwide municipal elections to vote for their local vereador (councilor) and prefeito (mayor). Polling stations will be open from 8AM to 5PM Candidates needs to get at least fifty percent of the vote to win outright and avoid a second round, which if necessary will take place on October 28th.

Brazil voting urn console, Brazil News
Electronic voting consoles – called “urnas” – mean the first round results should be known by the end of the day, photo by Elza Fiúza/ABr.

The race to be Rio mayor will likely be a one-horse affair, with the latest pre-election opinion polls predicting incumbent Eduardo Paes will be re-elected in the first round.

However, the candidates vying to be São Paulo mayor – former congressman Celso Russomanno, former mayor and presidential candidate José Serra and former Minister for Education Fernando Haddad – appear to have a much more even share of the vote, recent opinion polls have shown, and that none of these candidates is likely to reach fifty percent.

After checking in at a polling station using photo ID, using an electronic voting console voters must choose a candidate in two votes, first entering a five-digit code for their chosen councilor, and then a two-digit code for the mayor.

Voters may spoil their ballot by entering a number that has not been assigned to a candidate.

All Brazilians and naturalized foreigners between the ages of 18 to 70 are legally required to vote or must have been exempted from the vote for a valid reason. Otherwise they will face a R$3 fine, and two further missed votes will result in their voting right being suspended. The vote is optional for 17-to-18-year-olds, the over-70s, and those who are deemed illiterate.

Devices capable of taking photos, including cell phones with cameras, are banned from the voting hall. Some states ban the sale of alcohol 24 hours before the start of the election, but this will not affect Rio or São Paulo.

Another legal quirk of the elections is that voters cannot be arrested for five days before and two days following the elections, with a handful of exceptions, including police catching the criminal in the act. This has applied to candidates since June 22nd.

Up to 40,000 army, navy and air force personnel will help at polling stations this Sunday – some providing security and logistical support, and others making sure legal requirements are upheld. Of these, around 6,500 will be allocated to Rio state. Soldiers have already been deployed in Rio’s poorer neighborhoods since the beginning of the week.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.


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