“The People Have Faith in E-Voting, II”: Fake News in Prime Time, Brazilian Style

Mello, the Supreme Court justice who presides over Brazil’s TSE meets president of congressional subcommittee on e-voting security last week. See E-Vote: “Only In Brazil.”

Amilcar Brunaza Filho writes in to the Voto Seguro mailing list — a forum for Brazilian e-voting skeptics that Mr. Brunazo has been kind enough to let me audit.

Actually, the forum is open for anyone to read; Mr. Brunazo gave me posting privileges, but I have not taken advantage of them yet. I still have way more to learn than to teach.

Beside, my written Portuguêx is not exactly Euclides da Cunha. But I’m working on it.

Brazil’s TV Cultura will shortly broadcast a documentary on electronic voting in Brazil.

Mr. Brunazo advises subscribers that the documentary will confirm a pattern that I have also noticed: Almost all journalistic coverage of the issue in Brazil consists of running prefabricated publicity authored by the elections authority (TSE) — often without attribution to the source.

See also

Here in the U.S., we call this “fake news.”

High-powered politicos on both sides of the aisle have gotten very exercised over it. Because the USA is not some long-suffering banana republic, after all. We are the freaking Fortress of Democracy — adoptive home of Superman! — and we are supposed to act like it. I know it may not seem like it sometimes, but we do try.

Como eu suspeitava, a matéria “10 anos de Urna Eletrônica”, que irá ao ar na A TV Cultura, de SP, nesta quinta feira, dia 24 de maio às 20:30 h, será pura propaganda do TSE.

As I suspected, [writes Mr. Brunazo,] the report “Ten Years of the Electronic Voting Machine,” which will air on TV Cultura, São Paulo, on Thursday, May 24 at 10:30 pm, will be pure propaganda for the elections authority.

On the relationship of Mr. Brunazo and other experts in the area with the TSE, see

Na verdade, a matéria foi produzida pelo próprio TSE e a TV Cultura irá apenas reproduzi-la.

In point of fact, the report was produced by the TSE itself. TV Cultura is simply going to rebroadcast it.

É apenas mais um exemplo de como a grande imprensa brasileira apenas reproduz a palavra e propaganda oficial sobre voto-e e não abre nenhum espaço aos críticos, sejam técnicos ou juristas.

This is just one more example of how the Brazilian media merely reproduces official propaganda on e-voting without giving equal time to critics, whether on legal or technical grounds.

I can testify to that. It is hard to believe, but that’s the way it is. When Globo did a report on Rio’s BOPE recently, for example, it simply gave the “trooper elite” a camera and let them shoot their own footage.

The result: The segment is more like a first-person shooter video game than a recognizable act of journalism. See NMM(-TV)SNBCNNBS: The Cops of Fox x Globo’s BOPE.

Com certeza, nada será falado sobre os problemas do voto eletrônico como o Caso de Alagoas-2006 e o impedimento dos partidos auditarem os arquivos de votos digitais.

Without a doubt, nothing will be said about problems with e-voting, such as the 2006 Alagoas case, and the prevention of political parties from auditing the digital vote files.

On the Alagoas case, see also (just for starters):

The sitting Alagoas governor, the legitimacy of whose election is an (interminably) open question for the courts, has seen a number of his appointees arrested in the Straight Razor case.

On legal impediments to the auditing of election results, see

Também não vão falar nada sobre a proibição das urnas do tipo da brasileira nos EUA e na Europa.

It will also not say a thing about the banning of Brazilian-type e-voting machines in the USA and Europe.

The degree of control exercised by judicial-branch flacks over coverage of legal affairs in Brazil is jaw-dropping, as I can testify.

In the U.S., every major news organization has brigades of independent legal affairs reporters churning out reams of coverage of the Supreme Court, for example. We have C-SPAN and Court TV. In the popular realm, we have Judge Judy and The People’s Court, dedicated to showing how the wheels of justice grind. We have the insanely popular Law and Order TV series and the whole tradition of “legal eagle” primetime soap operas that preceded it.

We have, in other words, a whole infotainment industry dedicated to the notion that the drama of justice is pretty damned interesting and important, and certainly not too complicated for your average John Q. Public — Senhor Fulano de Sicrano, for my Brazilian friends — to understand.

In Brazil, the newspapers run the press release verbatim, often without attribution.

TV Justiça — which unlike C-SPAN, say, is publicly funded and controlled by the Judiciary itself — is just jaw-droppingly bad. If it shows video of court proceedings on controversial issues, it shows them at 2 o’clock in the morning, a month or two after the fact. Literally.

I have a whole clippings file of examples. It’s just so, so, so incredibly pre-WWII Italy.

So, we will have to watch and see if Mr. Brunazo’s predictions are correct. He generally does not steer us wrong. “Engineer Amilcar” is something of a nerd, and a stickler for technical detail. Which we respect.
Has he been able to preview the program?

Honey, TiVo that for me, would you?

Oh, wait, we don’t have TiVO.

Did you get that old Sony Handycam of ours working yet? For a screen pot?

I thought not. Piece of junk. My new JVC HD camcorder is much more reliable.

Oh, well, someone will manage to shoot it to us out of the old YouTube.

In the Park Slope, Brooklyn, free paper, picked up on April 3: “Brooklyn says no to invisible electronic ballots.” We do not cotton to Tammany men on this side of the East River. Brooklyn solidarity, therefore, with rational beings do lado de baixo do Equador.


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