Elections 2018

Understand how Brazilian elections work

published: Aug 29, 2018 12:43 PM, last modified: Aug 29, 2018 12:43 PM
Voters can choose candidates directly and secretly

José Cruz/Arquivo/Agência BrasilUnderstand how Brazilian elections work

In October, almost 150 million Brazilians are expected to go to the polls to choose their next representatives. Elections are scheduled for 7 October, when voters will cast ballots for state or district deputy (the latter only in the Federal District), federal deputy, senator, governor and president of the Republic.

The ballot is direct and secret, i.e. voters choose a specific candidate for each position to be filled and their choice is kept confidential. Blank and void votes are not considered valid votes by the Electoral Justice System, and therefore discarded for vote counting purposes.

Brazil uses two different system - majority and proportional - to define the winners of the election depending on the office being elected. All Executive positions (the president, governors and mayors) and Senate races are decided according to the majority system, in which the candidate with the most votes wins. The remaining votes, i.e. those for the Chamber of Deputies and municipal and state legislatures, are decided according to the proportional system.

President and governor races also follow the two-round system, in which a run-off election occurs when no candidate obtains more than half of all valid votes (i.e. excluding blank and void votes) in the first round. If that happens, the top two contenders compete again in another election round, scheduled to take place on 28 October this year.

In the proportional system (in a quick summary) the overall votes are distributed proportionately among the competing political parties.

Brazilians abroad

The obligation to vote in Brazil also extends to citizens living abroad aged 18 or older, who are still required to vote for the presidential elections. Polling stations outside Brazil are organised by the Regional Electoral Tribunal of the Federal District (TRE/DF), which works in partnership with Brazil's consulates and diplomatic missions throughout the world. The stations operate at embassies, consular offices or places where the Brazilian government provides services.