Hackers state that electronic voting machines in Brazil are deliberately flawed with serious vulnerabilities

The electronic ballot boxes are controversial in Brazil, many experts believe that the electronic voting machines or ballot boxes are susceptible to fraud and hackers can easily change the results. But it seems it’s not the only problem: A hacker apparently living under police protection, is said to have defrauded the results of elections in 2012 without invading any electronic ballot box.

In the seminar “The electronic ballot box is reliable?“, held few years ago in Rio de Janeiro a hacker called Rangel said that he had illegal access to the Intranet of Elections in Rio and modified results to benefit some candidates.

Here’s what the 19-year-old hacker said:

“We entered the Electoral Commission network when the results were being counted. We changed the results even when the counting was about to close and rigged the results.

Vulnerabilities in the voting machine

No public investigation has been properly carried out since. Besides the network, the electronic voting Urns themselves are surrounded by certain amounts of distrust: the vote is only digitized, which increases the potential for fraud; no independent audit of the vote; and it can be hacked if using the right tools. Many alternatives are used in other countries: the vote is printed (in addition to being digitized), or even a code is generated, which can be later used to check the vote after the elections.


Several times, the Anonymous group, published a critique targeted at the system of Brazilian electronic ballot boxes, accusing it of being deliberately flawed and summarizing many vulnerabilities.

The main criticism of the security of electronic Urns is that there is no technology that will ensure the software in the ballot box on election day is the software that the TSE (The Superior Electoral Court) believed was there. No technology at all… There is no expertise that could check the ballot box after the voting to find out if the software used during the vote is the same software that was inside after the voting had happened.

A machine can be programmed, in addition to the defrauding election, one could steal ballots, and then reprogramme to erase all data or traces of the fraud.

“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal,” Emma Goldman

There could have been some kind of manipulation of the results of calculations to ensure partisan majorities? Well, that’s impossible to know, since it is impossible to audit the results of electronic elections. Thus, the people are united in seeking to prevent the alleged fraud of Brazilian elections.

In the beginning of March this year, according to the TSE website, the vulnerability of the electronic voting system was tested by thirteen researchers and experts in Brasilia. The Security Public Test was accompanied by the national and international press.

Eight proposals were presented by researchers and approved by the Regulatory Committee at the event.

Until now, no final report on such tests has been published on the TSE website (www.tse.jus.br). Other sources published possible failures, such as problems found in the ballot box with audio, designed for visually impaired voters. According to experts invited by the TSE, it is possible to others around the booth to identify the vote of the visually impaired voter through the sound emitted by voting Urn. Another serious flaw found was the possibility of change in the number of votes allocated to a particular candidate after the polls are closed.

The elections of the current term of President Dilma are also being investigated, as many of the PT party supporters already knew the outcome and were celebrating the victory on Twitter and WhatsApp before counting had finished.


Carolina works for HackRead as a technical writer. She is a Brazilian traveller who has been to almost every country around the world. She has a keen interest in technology, gadgets and social media.