Since the 2000 Municipal Elections, the entire Brazilian population chooses, through the electronic ballot box, who will represent them. Although the technology was successfully adopted for voting, at that time, the procedure for identifying voters still depended entirely on human intervention - polling station officials received the documents of the person who was going to vote, verified their data, typed in the registration number in the electronic ballot box and, if the registration of the electoral title was in that section, they released the ballot box for voting.

To make the electoral process even safer and prevent one pBiometria.jpgerson from voting for another, the Electoral Court started the project for biometric identification of the electorate. The adoption of biometrics significantly reduced human intervention in the voting process. The ballot box is only released for voting when the biometric reader identifies the voter's fingerprints, which are electronically verified using the unified database of the Electoral Court.

In the 2008 Elections, biometrics was tested for the first time in the municipalities of São João Batista (Santa Caterina), Fátima do Sul (Mato Grosso do Sul), and Colorado do Oeste (Rondônia). After the success of the biometric review in the three cities, the Electoral Court decided to continue, in 2010, the project of biometric identification of the electorate in another 57 municipalities. Thus, in that year's general elections, 1.1 million voters from 60 municipalities in 23 states voted after verification by biometric technology.

In the 2014 elections, around 21 million citizens from 764 municipalities in all states and the Federal District were able to use biometric identification. In the 2018 election, in turn, the number of people biometrically registered had already exceeded 85 million. In 2020, approximately 120 million Brazilians had already completed the biometric registration.

Due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and in compliance with the Health Security Plan prepared by the TSE in partnership with the Ministry of Health (Fiocruz) and the Albert Einstein and Sírio-Libanês hospitals, there was no biometric identification of the electorate in the 2020 elections. For the same reason, electoral offices across the country suspended the registration of new biometrics until the current health emergency situation is regularized.

In any case, it is expected that almost 100% of the electorate will be able to vote with biometric identification by the 2026 elections.

The Electoral Court, concerned with the continuous improvement of elections, began, in 2008, another stage in the modernization of the electoral process with the implementation of the Biometric Identification Program, using technology for individual recognition of the electorate, based on biometric data (fingerprints).

At that time, the identification system, a preliminary and fundamental stage of the electoral process, required the attention of this specialized court, mainly in relation to two aspects: the process of identifying the voter in the electoral section and the techniques that detect duplicated registration in the Electoral Registry.

As for the first aspect, the objective of the project is the evolution of the identification process when the person presents him/herself to the polls, improving this stage through technological mechanisms, such as biometric data. In this way, the security criteria for the authorization to vote are strengthened, previously restricted to checking identification documents – a manual procedure that left room for failures – and under the control of delegates and supervisors of political parties.

With regard to the second aspect, procedures are carried out in the Electoral Registry to guarantee the uniqueness of the records contained in the database. The fingerprints collected from voters are compared one by one with all the others stored in the registry through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), enabling the identification of people with more than one record. If after an investigative procedure the occurrence of duplicity is confirmed, a competent electoral judge determines its exclusion.

Since the beginning of the Biometric Identification Program, the number of people with a biometric registration has progressively increased. However, for the first time since 2008, the work of biometric collection was suspended in 2020 due to the health emergency resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the suspension, the TSE has sought to increase the number of biometric records through technical cooperation agreements with public bodies that also carry out biometric collections, such as Denatran [the national DMV], the Federal Police, among others. Based on these agreements, the Electoral Court will be able to add the data collected by these partner agencies to its records, in order to avoid the mandatory attendance at the electoral offices, to reduce costs, and to comply with the objective of collecting the biometrics of 100% of the electorate until the 2026 elections. 

For further information go to:

Current biometrics by Federal Unit or Municipality (in portuguese).