How does an election work in Brazil?

Did you know that Brazil has a modern and super efficient electoral system? It is a fully digitized process that is considered a role model worldwide.

hand showing the victory sign, painted with the Brazilian flag
the victory sign

Brazil has a compulsory voting system. You need a very special reason to be freed from this duty, which can be a sick leave or vacation trip, and the justification must be submitted in written form immediately after the election. To make sure that as many voters as possible have the day off, the election always takes place on a Sunday. The polling stations are open continuously from 8:00 to 18:00.

the Brazilian voting document
the voting document

Every voter in Brazil is registered with the Supreme Electoral Court. The voting document must be presented at the polling station. You can already vote from the age of 16, but the obligation to vote does not apply until you are 18 years old.


In 1985 the idea of digitizing the electoral system had its starting point. After the one-time and automated registration of all voters, the Supreme Electoral Court had set up a commission to work on the programming of the ballot boxes. In 1996 the first "electronic ballot boxes" were used and since 2000 the entire process has been fully digitized.


This year the Brazilians will elect their new mayors and councillors. In two years time (hopefully) they will choose a new president, along with new governors, state and federal deputies and senators. Pretty complex, isn't it? That makes the digitalization of the electoral system in a country as large as Brazil all the more important. The result is announced immediately after the polling stations are closed.

Photo of people queueing, which one can see only the legs
with so many voters, the queues can get long!

According to the portal of the Supreme Electoral Court, there are currently 147,918,483 registered voters in Brazil, I am one of them, of course! As I am currently stranded in Germany due to the Covid pandemic, this year I could not fly to Brazil to fulfill my duty. In this case, I have to justify my absence in written form*.


Are you curious how this works? There is an online voting simulator where you can try it out. It is strictly forbidden to bring any kind of electronic device into the voting booth and of course we have the secrecy of the ballot.

*Update: I will be able to justify my absence via an official app, without paper and bureaucracy.