Faced with the most tense elections since redemocratization, Minister Alexandre de Moraes, president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), established an even more robust shield for the electoral process and the Brazilian Judiciary. The record number of volunteer workers already indicates the safety net around the system. This year, the number almost doubled compared to 2018 — there will be 830,000 participants, an increase of 48%.
In all, 1.7 million members of the polls were summoned to attend the polls this year. Among them, 52% were appointed by the Electoral Justice, while 48% applied to act of their own accord.
According to the latest Justice in Numbers report, released by the National Justice Council (CNJ) last Thursday, the Electoral Justice has a workforce of 31,251 people, of which 20,823 are civil servants, 7,608 assistants and 2,820 judges. The data are for the year 2021.
According to the document, the annual investment of more than 187 million in technology alone, which corresponds to a third of the total. In addition, the TSE has more than 2,278 people on its staff, at a cost of R$ 130 million in computing. The budget of the Electoral Court exceeds R$ 6 billion per year.
Fernando Xavier, BuscaJuris’ CEO, highlights that the investment is fundamental to guarantee the fairness of the voting system. “There are resources and many people involved to ensure that the electoral process takes place in a safe way. In 2022, there will be more than 1.7 million poll workers working in the elections. There is a great concern for the safety of the candidates themselves as well”, he observed.
In charge of the Court for less than a month, Minister Alexandre de Moraes invested in the creation of intelligence centers and has reinforced campaigns to protect electronic voting machines. The structure is one of the largest assembled in the country.
Several measures have already been approved by the TSE aiming at the security of voters and polling stations on voting days in the first and second rounds. It is forbidden to carry weapons within 100 meters of the polling stations and to enter the electronic voting booth with a cell phone.
Since he was elected, President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) has complained about fraud in the 2018 elections – never proven – and that his ticket would have won in the first round against Fernando Haddad (PT). The Chief Executive even suggested that the Armed Forces carry out a parallel investigation in this year’s elections, causing, once again, friction between the Powers. this climate of belligerence that the TSE wants to contain, with the help of other institutions.
The protection network began to be structured during the administration of Minister Lus Roberto Barroso. In September of last year, the magistrate appointed a commission with the objective of increasing the participation of specialists, representatives of civil society and public institutions in the inspection and auditing of the electoral process.
Fearing a repetition of the wave of fake news seen in the last presidential election, the Judiciary also invested in the creation of programs to educate the population about the danger of fake news. Under the administration of Minister Edson Fachin (February to August 2022), the TSE signed and renewed partnerships with the main digital media, which began to defend the integrity of the system publicly.
Sources interviewed by the Correio confirmed that the court has a plan in place to conduct the October elections with the least amount of turmoil possible, and to prevent justice in the event of extreme scenarios. Bolsonaro has already stated, on past occasions, that he would not accept the result of the election, if it is not favorable to him.
The TSE also already has reactions and legal security in place in case of actions by parties with requests to challenge the candidacy or to cancel the ticket.
Political consultant Bruno Scobino, from Acrpole Relaes Governmentais, emphasizes that the Judiciary, along with the Executive and Legislative branches, must be prepared to preserve the Democratic State of Law. “One of its responsibilities is to regulate what other spheres of political power can or cannot do, in order to prevent the State from taking unconstitutional or even self-critical actions”, he highlighted.
Scobino cited the moderating role of higher courts, which must be alert to any unconstitutionality or abuse of power. “This is the action that the Judiciary must carry out when it deems it necessary, as theorized by Montesquieu, an Enlightenment author and father of the separation of Powers”, he pointed out.
Political scientist Andr Rosa shares the same understanding of the role of magistrates. “It must be ensured that the Judiciary System has the power to curb excesses by both the Legislative and the Executive. In other words, it needs to have a final seal against authoritarian actions”, he reiterated.
women in charge
The characters who will be in front of Justice during the election devise strategies to protect the fairness of the voting system. In addition to Moraes at the head of the TSE, the Federal Supreme Court (STF) will be headed by Minister Rosa Weber, as of September 12.
The Superior Court of Justice (STJ) also has a name that will stand before the Court during the elections. Maria Thereza de Assis Moura was chosen to occupy the position in the 2022/2024 period. She is the second woman to preside over the STJ in history. Luis Felipe Salomo was designated to act as the National Inspector of Justice, and Minister Og Fernandes the vice president.
The TSE, the highest court for matters related to elections, has seven effective ministers, three of whom come from the STF; two chosen from among the members of the STJ; and two jurists. Currently, the Court also has five substitute magistrates, established by the same criteria (see table above).
The magistrates have been dealing with a legal war between the candidates. Since the beginning of the campaign, the Court has received numerous requests about alleged irregularities by the presidential candidates, especially regarding their behavior on social networks. Alleged offenses are honor, misinformation and irregular advertising.
One of the most influential cases was that of First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro. Last week, Minister Maria Claudia Bucchianeri suspended the exhibition of the president’s electoral commercial in which the candidate’s wife talks about the crossing of the São Francisco River for 30 seconds. The argument was that the apparition exceeded the limit of 25% of the total time allocated to supporters in free electoral propaganda.
The TSE also ordered the removal of a publication by the Partido da Causa Operria (PCO) that associated presidential candidate Simone Tebet (MDB) with the death of indigenous people.
The Court also denied a request by the presidential coalition Luiz Incio Lula da Silva (PT) to remove videos from TikTok and Facebook of Bolsonaristas. The PT’s defense alleged that the content has misinformation to “manipulate public opinion”.