How campaigns will try to trick Brazilians into voting for the wrong candidate

. Aug 21, 2018
jair bolsonaro fake news brazil social media electronic vote Fake news groups want to induce voters to choose Jair Bolsonaro and Lula

Brazil introduced electronic voting machines in its electoral system as an experiment in the 1996 municipal elections. According to Giuseppe Janino, the Superior Electoral Court’s Director of Technology, the machine had to meet certain requirements related to both safety and user experience. “It had to prevent anyone from accessing its system, while being easy to use, thus allowing illiterate voters to use it,” he said.

And that’s how the design of the Brazilian voting machine was conceived. Instead of choosing a name and marking an ‘X’, voters would instead type a number, and the candidate’s face, name, and party would appear. If the correct info pops up, voters hit a large, green button marked “CONFIRM” to cast their ballot, like in the explanatory video released by electoral authorities in 2014:

Simple, right? Well, it was, before the era of fake news. Now, supporters of some of the highest-profile campaigns are using social media – notably Facebook and WhatsApp Messenger (which has become one of the main forms of communication in Brazil) – to deceive voters and trick them into voting for one candidate, while thinking they are voting for another.

We explain.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The social media armies of many campaigns are spreading false images of candidates with the wrong numbers on it. In the images below, centrist Marina Silva, center-right Geraldo Alckmin, and far-left <a href="">Guilherme Boulos</a> are all depicted as bearing the number 17 &#8211; which is actually the number of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-7748 aligncenter" src="" alt="marina silva" width="309" height="312" srcset=" 309w, 150w, 297w, 120w" sizes="(max-width: 309px) 100vw, 309px" /></p> <hr /> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-large wp-image-7747 aligncenter" src="" alt="geraldo alckmin" width="311" height="291" srcset=" 311w, 300w" sizes="(max-width: 311px) 100vw, 311px" /></p> <hr /> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-7746 aligncenter" src="úmero-boulos.png" alt="guilherme boulos" width="630" height="350" srcset="úmero-boulos.png 630w,úmero-boulos-300x167.png 300w,úmero-boulos-610x339.png 610w" sizes="(max-width: 630px) 100vw, 630px" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Instead, Ms. Silva&#8217;s number is 18, Mr. Alckmin&#8217;s is 45, and Mr. Boulos&#8217; is 50.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But supporters of Mr. Bolsonaro are not the only ones pulling the trick. One image shows the former Army captain and reads: &#8220;Just to remind you that Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s number is 13.&#8221; That number, however, is attributed to the Workers&#8217; Party.</span></p> <hr /> <p><img loading="lazy" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-7749" src="úmero-bolsonaro.png" alt="jair bolsonaro brazil election president" width="811" height="809" srcset="úmero-bolsonaro.png 811w,úmero-bolsonaro-150x150.png 150w,úmero-bolsonaro-300x300.png 300w,úmero-bolsonaro-768x766.png 768w,úmero-bolsonaro-610x608.png 610w,úmero-bolsonaro-120x120.png 120w" sizes="(max-width: 811px) 100vw, 811px" /></p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Until yesterday, these false images had generated over 10,000 engagements (likes, comments, shares) on Facebook. The social media giant released a </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">statement</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to fact-checking agency </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lupa</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, saying that this content &#8220;was removed for failing to comply with Facebook Community standards, which don&#8217;t allow the support of fraud.&#8221;</span></p> <h2>How can the hoax work?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If the face, name, and party of the candidate appear </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">before</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> the ballot is cast, then how could this hoax work? Well, the system remains confusing to a lot of people, especially those not familiarized with digital systems and who don&#8217;t know for sure how the voting machine operates. And as the ballot is secret, no one can accompany these people into the voting booth. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The order of voting is also not clear for most of the electorate. First, the voter chooses a candidate for state congress and the lower house (five-digit and four-digit numbers, respectively); then, he must type a three-digit number for senator (this year each state will choose two senators &#8211; so each citizen must vote twice for that position). Only then will voters reach the high-profile races: governor and president (two-digit numbers each). </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2014, it took about 1 minute and 14 seconds for the average voter to cast all ballots. But it can take up to 30 minutes for less-experienced people. In 2002, even former Brasília Governor Joaquim Roriz &#8211; a seasoned politician intimate with the electoral system &#8211; had problems to vote for himself. He had to ask poll workers</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">for help in order to conclude his vote.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So, as you can see, campaigns will prey on the lack of information to induce a wrongful vote.

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