‘The First Digital Election’

A primeira eleição digital is that Época article I was mentioning earlier, here hastily translated.

It is, in many respects, to a jaw-dropping degree, a complete crock of shit, as far as I can tell — especially, as I noted before, as to the “real time” and “disintermediated” access to raw election data.

Who is this Ricardo Neves, anyway?

The First Digital Election

Few people noticed on the night of October 1 that an extraordinary and complex social process that Brazilian society was undergoing ended with the publication, on the Web portal of the Federal Electoral Tribunal, of the results of the vote-count.

Throughout the day, in the streets and at the polling places, an orderly, festive and peaceful election took place. A complex process, realized with Swiss punctuality and Japanese efficiency. In only 10 hours, 105 million Brazilians appeared at 361,431 polling places scattered throughout a vast nation, all of them connected in real time to the TSE. The election proved that the Brazilian people love to vote. Most of all, this was evident in the massive turnout by people over 65 and young people between 16 and 18. Compare our 83% voter turnout with the turnout in the U.S. and the great European democracies, where a turnout of 50% is a smashing success.


Throughout the night, we saw a vote-tallying process that is more refined than ever. Realized in only five hours, it turned into an electrifying civic reality show in real time. Anyone with internet access could could perform his own personal coverage without the intermediation of TV, newspaper or radio. Now, you just select the angle that most interests you, focuses on the office, the candidate, the party. You could see the voting in every municipality, state or region. In the meantime, TV showed once again that it is incapable of reinventing itself.

Statement highlighted above is a crock of shit. See Notes on the Great Brazilian Election Disintermediation and Democratic Awakening of 2006.

In the course of that unforgettable night, Brazil made history. Brazil was the first great nation on the planet to have a completely digital election, and will be recognized as such by historians of the future. We succeeded in demonstrating a pilot case of how a digital democratic society works. Still, only about 15 million of Brazil’s 52 million households can follow the vote count on the Internet. This prevents us from having a shared experience more in tune with social transformation, capable of understanding the scope of the changes that are occurring.

I have also read the figure of Internet penetration in terms of 13 million individual users. Was that a typo? Note to self: Fact-check IBOPE-Nielsen Net Ratings findings, methodology.

Here comes the standard dig at the incompetence and bias of the “mainstream media” (MSM):

Newspapers all around the world announced on election eve that Lula would have no trouble winning reelection. But that was not the way Brazilians voted. Our democracy has also made qualitative progress as it has digitalized. We have gained speed in a critical social process, such as elections, that was crucial in a situation in which the difference between them was so narrow. The longer the vote count takes, the more stressful it is for society, the worse it is for the economy, and the greater the risk to our institution. Today, the delay in announcing the results of democratic elections in Brazil hit zero.

Not true. The preliminary results are subject to challenges and corrections, and in fact the TSE president was forced to apologize publicly for implying otherwise.

The start of the second round was, in fact, delayed because of a need to adjudicate such challenges and appeals.

Quite a few state-level results, for example, have yet to be finalized for this reason, even as the second round proceeds [I am adding this note on Oct. 14 — Ed.]

I’ll translate some case reports of the kinds of electoral challenges currently being adjudicated.

But dont’t think this is just patriotism talking. Compare our vote count with the recent election in Mexico, or that rough and tumble 2000 election in the U.S. In both cases, the close margin separating the candidates led to calls for a recount. Because those countries lacked an electronic voting machine and a powerful online system linking the machines and the districts, it took three weeks for the results to be known.

Recounts are not permitted under recent amendments to Brazilian electoral law. Which I find highly, highly suspicious.

We have been fighting for our rights for 20 years. Before digitalization, the results of the great national elections might not be known for a month. That was the case with the election of Jânio Quadros in 1960. He had a little over 6 million votes, the same tally received by Heloisa Helena in 2006. Even on the eve of the military dictatorship, it was common for the lines outside the polling place to stretch around the block. The process was so slow that some precincts had to stay open for 24 hours so that everyone could vote.

Here comes the biggest crock of shit of them all: associating the purported technological advances in the electoral process –an enormous crock of shit in its own right — with the “fora Lula” cause.

It’s great to see public institutions actually working. Why, in other areas in which the State plays a role, such as education, health and security, and even in the Judiciary and legislature, can we not make this qualitative leap, as the TSE has done?

That, according to my researches, which continue, may be the most putrid crock of shit of all.

That the presidential elections went to a runoff is a great victory for Brazilian society. Let’s hope the candidates are able to present themselves as the competent leaders they ought to be. And not as prophets, saviors of the fatherland, or demagogues. Let’s hope the press will do its job, helping voters to remember and to discover that which spurious interests try to cover up. In the age of Digital Citizenship, we no longer need to hit the streets to change things. It’s enough to press “confirm.”

Right. Look at how well that worked for the antiwar movement in the U.S.

Look, I am not necessarily pro-Lula here. That’s for Brazilians to decide.

Lula would make a lousy mayor of New York City, I suspect — where I surprised myself by voting for Bloomberg and not totally regretting it later. Or at least not yet.

But honey, this here ain’t New York City. No way, no how.

This here is a post-Katrina New Orleans stretched out for a good fifty years.

What I’m against, if I may put the point in blunt Brooklynese, are lying scumbag propagandists like this guy and the folks who taught him how to pull this kind of shit — whom I continue to suspect, given a lot of little nuances in the techniques used for financing and organizing “grassroots” media campaigns and crafting memes for distribution, are U.S. political consultants.

There are some very disturbing untruths in that article.

I think this story deserves a thorough investigative treatment.

E daí, ABRAJI?

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One thought on “‘The First Digital Election’

  1. Pingback: The Brazilian ABA Investigates « NMM Business Continuity

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