Election results in Brazil: why some states count their votes before others

A woman casts her vote at a polling station during the presidential elections, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, October 30, 2022. (REUTERS/Diego Vara)

When the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) began to publish the vote count of the first round of the 2022 general election, on October 2all of Brazil was able to verify that the first votes were from the South and Southeast regions. Only some time later, those from the Midwest began to be counted and, finally, the votes from the states of the Northeast and North regions.

According to him Secretary of Informatics of the Electoral Court, Julio Valente, this situation, which is repeated in all the elections, is caused by various logistical problems in the transmission of the votes of each one of the 27 units of the Federation. Due to the volume of information that the TSE receives at the same time, votes from the north of the country end up arriving in Brasilia last and therefore wait in a “queue” to be processed.

Julio Valente explains that there are three factors that can slow down the transmission of data from the polls to the TSE for the recount. The first is the number of positions that are voted on – which implies more time in front of the ballot box – and the existence of queues of voters who have not yet voted at the polling station after 5:00 p.m., when, in theory, it closes. the vote. In these cases, the electoral norm determines that the passwords are distributed and that the voting continues until the last person in the queue votes. Only then is the electronic ballot box closed, the ballot is printed and the support of the results is removed in order to transmit the data to the Electoral Justice.

Bolsonaro and Lula face each other in the ballotage this Sunday (REUTERS / Pilar Olivares)
Bolsonaro and Lula face each other in the ballotage this Sunday (REUTERS / Pilar Olivares)

The second reason is related to the fact that in many places far from the big centers there is the problem of limited telecommunications infrastructure. And this is a recurring situation, especially in the poorer regions of the northern and northeastern states and parts of the Midwest. The problem has to do with the computer processing capacity available in the locality for data transmission, as well as with the stability and speed of the local data network in connection with the private network of the Electoral Justice.

According to Julio Valente, this difficulty is usually overcome by transporting the secretary to an Electoral Justice transmission point, which takes time, or by using a satellite phone in remote areas, such as indigenous villages.

The third factor of possible delay in the processing of the votes in the recount of the elections already occurs in brasilia, in the Data Processing Center (CPD) of the TSE. “When these data arrive at the CPD of the Electoral Justice, they enter a structure similar to a ‘bank queue,’” explains Valente. In this way, the data of the states that deal with the contingencies of the information infrastructures end up reaching the TSE after the data of the South and Southeast regions, which managed to transmit them more easily. For this reason, they are left waiting in a “queue” to be finally processed and totaled.

According to Valente, the queue does not take long to form. This is because, at the moment, the TSE is receiving a huge volume of transmissions – more than 496,000 ballots – at the same time. “Since everything arrives at the TSE at the same time and in the same data structure, sometimes the 30 seconds it takes to connect after the vote is enough for more than 50,000 ballots to have been entered”said.

Keep reading:

Election results in Brazil: why some states count their votes before others