Design and Procurement of E-voting Machines in Brazil

The design and procurement processes carried out in Brazil demonstrate the importance of transparency and inclusiveness in building trust not only in the design and procurement of technology, but also in the eventual technology itself.

In 1994, Brazil’s Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (TSE) established a committee to assess the feasibility of transitioning to electronic voting. While the committee was largely made up of legal professionals, it reached out to a wide range of stakeholders through the consideration and design stages of its work. Stakeholders within government were consulted, but so were outside experts at a range of computer companies. Existing commercial electronic voting packages were also assessed, and a visit was conducted to the U.S. state of Virginia to see the electronic voting machines in use there.

The committee’s conclusion from this consultation and research process was that no existing electronic voting systems met the specific requirements of Brazil’s elections; therefore, a custom solution would have to be developed. In its 1995 report, the committee elaborated a set of initial requirements that would need to be met by the new electronic voting system.

The recommendations of this report led to the establishment of a “technical” committee tasked with further defining the requirements of the new system and outlining the procurement process and the evaluation of bids. In order to develop the request for tender, the technical committee first published a request for comments and suggestions. Dozens of reports from companies, government entities and universities were received in response to this request; and with the information received, the technical committee wrote detailed tender documents. The procurement process included a requirement that all bids include a working model of the proposed voting machine that could pass 96 separate tests before being considered. Five companies submitted bids initially, but only three of these provided working models that passed all 96 tests. Procurement rules for government purchases were followed, and all criteria for judging bids by companies were made public.

This open and consultative design and procurement process did much to generate trust in the process and the eventual use of electronic voting machines in Brazil.

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