Brazil election: Do voting machines lead to fraud? (Intermediate English Lesson)

Essas aulas de inglês são para alunos intermediários e avançados de inglês como segunda língua. Eles incluem “Ler”, “Ouvir” e “Escrever”. Basta seguir a lição respondendo às perguntas à medida que as encontra.

Todas as vagas em negrito devem ser traduzidas para seu próprio idioma para ajudar na compreensão do novo vocabulário.

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Brazil’s electronic voting machine comes of age


In the UK we have the oldest democracy in the world and in my opinion the truest democracy in the world. These two superlatives the ‘oldest and truest’ gives me great pride in what we have. We don’t have to vote if we don’t want to. If we don’t want or like any of our polititians on offer, we state this very clearly by staying at home. In English we have an expression ‘vote with your feet’.  In the UK we don’t use computerised voting machines. Instead we prefer to use the old fashioned pen and paper method and count the votes by hand.  We believe this is the ‘most reliable’. So many superlatives.  When an election comes around the votes are collected in polling stations and at the end of the day when voting has closed they are delivered to a local counting depot, usually the local town hall or council offices. Once they arrive in the secure steel boxes, they are emptied and counted by volunteers, usually by people like me who have volunteered. In the 66 years of my life I have never had any doubt or heard of any dishonesty. I think this speaks volumes about not only the manual hand-counting system but also the integrety of our democracy and the British people and our respect for our democratic system and process.

Question One: Write a short sentence using two or three superlatives.  Table OF SUPERLATIVES


The way we do things in the UK. 

Interesting fact:       During the Brazil election they use 577,000 voting machines to collect the data from voters.


In Brazil they use a computerised vote collecting system. Let’s learn how this works and what are the issues for and against.

Recently and continually through his presidential campaign, president Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has said that the voting machines used across Brazil are open to fraud, with echoes of Donald Trump’s rhetoric around the 2020 US election.

Brazil’s presidential election is going into a second round, after voting on the 2nd of October finished with no candidate achieving over 50% of votes needed to prevent a run-off and a clear win.

“The system is completely vulnerable,” claimed President Bolsonaro while campaigning, without providing evidence.

Question Two: What does this phrase mean: ‘with echoes of Donald Trump’s rhetoric around the 2020 US election.’


So how does voting work in Brazil?

In this election, voting is being done electronically, as has been the case since 1996.

Each candidate has a number, and on election day voters type the number of their chosen candidate into a voting machine at polling stations across the country.

The votes are then counted by the machines, and the totals are sent electronically to a central office. Votes from across the country are tallied up and a final result is announced, usually within hours of polls closing.

Each machine also prints out a paper copy of the totals for each candidate. When polls close they are displayed publicly at polling sites, and each machine’s votes can be compared with the total recorded by the electoral court.

This year, for the first time, these paper copies were published online on the day of the first round vote.

Question Three:  What does the phrase  ‘tallied-up’  mean? Write a short sentence using the term ‘tallied-up’.

LISTENING SECTION:  Watch the video and then answer the questions below:


  1. What does it mean ‘to lay the groundwork’?
  2. How many security barriers are there built into the electronic voting system?
  3. What is a ‘judicial conspiracy’?
  4. How many people in Brazil still believe in their electronic voting system?
  5. Exactly how long has Brazil been using the electronic voting system and what year did it begin?


And what is Bolsonaro’s claim?

President Bolsonaro has said: “We cannot have dubious elections in 2022. Public counting of votes is needed.”

He’s been making similar claims for years. After winning the 2018 presidential election in a run-off, he claimed voting fraud robbed him of an outright victory in the first round, which he won by a 17 point margin with 46% of the vote.

Subsequent studies of the 2018 election didn’t find any evidence of voting irregularities.

Brazilians vote electronically, so there are no paper copies of individual ballots.

This has been highlighted by President Bolsonaro as a security issue, and he has called for “printable and auditable” paper ballots to safeguard the electronic system.

“It’s impossible to audit elections in Brazil,” President Bolsonaro declared in July during a meeting with ambassadors.

He says it is “easy to rig” electronic voting machines by altering their source code, the internal commands within a machine’s software.

Question Four:  What does the term ‘easy to rig’ mean.   Write a short sentence using the term ‘easy to rig’


What evidence is there of fraud?

It’s not true to say you can’t audit the vote in Brazil. The machines can retrieve votes cast for an electronic recount.

Such an audit took place in the 2014 presidential election, which concluded that there was no foul play.

“There is no reasonable proof of fraud going on in the past, at least in big audits that have been done,” says Prof Marcos Simplicio, who took part in the auditing of the 2014 election.

The Supreme Electoral Court, the body that oversees Brazil’s election, says the system has a series of procedures in place to secure the vote.

For example, a number of voting machines are selected at random to be removed from polling sites for a test vote alongside the actual vote on election day.

These are checked to be working correctly by entering test votes for each of the candidates in a process witnessed by party representatives.

Question Five:  What is ‘foul play’? Write a short sentence using the term ‘foul play’


“A vote placed in the electronic ballot box is secured by several mechanisms. The software goes through several tests, including tests with experts and outside investigators who try to break its security,” says Julio Valente, the Information Technology Secretary of Brazil’s electoral court.

Before each election the court invites researchers and software experts to look for vulnerabilities in the voting system. This year, more than 20 experts tried to penetrate the system but failed to do so.

However, over the years experts have said improvements could be made.

“The security of the Brazilian election system relies heavily on the system’s software, which has been the main point of criticism from the academic community since the 90s,” says Prof Paulo Matias, a computer security specialist at the University of São Carlos.

Question Six:  What is a ‘vunerability’? Write a short sentence using the word ‘vunerabilities’.


In 150 words describe your feelings about the electronic voting system used in Brazil. Do you think that it’s possible to corrupt such a system or do you think that it’s ‘political rhetoric’ in the same way that Donald Trump used it to encite unrest during the last US election.


During your writing use two examples of the future perfect progressive. Below you will find a video lesson explaining the ‘FUTURE PERFECT PROGRESSIVE’

Please visit this lesson on my YouTube channel and leave me a LIKE and SUBSCRIBE

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