Voting in Brazil is mandatory and elections have to be supervised by assistants in each polling station. In this article, we will learn more about election assistants in Brazil.
Summoning by the TRE
Each Tribunal Regional Eleitoral (TRE), Portuguese for Regional Electoral Court, is responsible for summoning all people who will assist in the elections in their designated region. In the presidential elections of 2010, more than 300.000 people were summoned to assist in the elections. The following jobs can be held by those assisting at the elections:
- Presidente de Mesa, Portuguese for President of the Polling Station, the most important of the election assistants present in the polling station, responsible for supervising all the work
- 1° e 2° mesários, Portuguese for 1st and 2nd Poll Workers, who assist the President of the Polling Station and perform other minor duties
- Secretário de Seção, Portuguese for Polling Station Secretary, who organizes the voters that are entering the polling station as well as produces a report of all the occurrences that happened during the elections
Justifications for not being able to carry out the role of election assistant must be presented to the judge of their Electoral Zone within five days of receiving the summons. This must include a document proving the individual will be unable to assist in the elections. Despite this, there is no guarantee that the person will be dismissed from assisting in the elections.
Absence from regular work due to assisting in the elections or training for them cannot be considered absence at work and can not be denied by employers. If a worker does not receive the paid leave from their employer, the worker is allowed to claim their rights in a Labor Court or report the occurrence to their syndicate or at the nearest Delegacia Regional do Trabalho, which is Portuguese for Regional Labor Police Station.
Conditions to be summoned
All people owning a Voter Registration Card, older than 18 years old and having no legal issues related to the Electoral Justice are eligible to be summoned or can volunteer themselves to be an election assistant.
But there are several other requirements that have to be met in order to be summoned or to volunteer to be an election assistant:
- Not be a candidate or be any relative with one of the candidates, up to the second degree, including spouse or companion
- Member of Board of Directors, supervisor and delegates of any registered political party, whose name has already been officially published
- Public servant in a leadership position or a police officer, as well as other officials working in the Executive power
- Those working in other election-related services
Those who fulfill the requirements - mentioned above - to be an election assistant but were not summoned can voluntarily apply for it, through the Mesário Voluntário program. To voluntarily apply to be an election assistant, the individual must contact the nearest TRE office to know if the program has been implemented. If not, the interested individual must contact the nearest Cartório Eleitoral, Portuguese for Electoral Notary Office, and present themselves as available to work as an electoral assistant.
Responsibilities of election assistants
The responsibilities of all election assistants are described in the Electoral Law.
The responsibilities of the President of the Polling Station are:
- Check the credentials of supervisors of political parties
- Supervise the issuance of the report stating all votes tallied in the electronic ballot box they were responsible for
- Enter each Voter Registration Card number on the voting machine microterminal, registering the presence of those who voted
- Resolve any difficulties that may arise
- Maintain order in the polling station
- Report to the election judge occurrences which solutions need his approval
- Supervise the distribution of queue management tickets when the polls are closing
- Ensure the preservation of voting materials
- Close the voting session and issue the ballot box bulletin of vote
- Sign all copies of the ballot box bulletin of vote with the Polling Station Secretary and the supervisors of political parties present
- Report, after voting has closed, those who did not attend voting
- Deliver to the electoral board all electoral material
The responsibilities of the 1st and 2nd Poll Workers are, in that order, to replace the President of the Polling Station, in their absence, and also:
- Identify the voter, make sure they sign the registration book and handle them the proof of voting
- Dictate the Voter Registration Card’s number of each voter to the Presidente de Mesa who will input it in the voting machine microterminal
The responsibilities of the Polling Station Secretary are:
- Distribute to the voters, at 17.00 hours - when no more voters are allowed to enter the polling station - queue management tickets according to the numerical order in which they arrived
- Fill in the minutes of the occurrences of that polling station by completing the form approved by the Tribunal Superior Eleitoral, which is Portuguese for Superior Electoral Court, stating all occurrences that happened during the voting period
- Guide voters and verify that they belong to that section, checking their documents
Benefits of election assistants
As the summoned election assistants cannot decline the summons, some benefits are given to them:
- Certificate of Participation in the Elections, which may count as a means to fulfill extra-curricular activity obligations in colleges for students of institutions convened with the TRE
- Paid leave equal to double the days spent in training activities for the elections or in the elections. This is also valid when the worker is in the middle of their vacation
- Tie-breaking condition in concursos públicos, if mentioned in the edital
- Meal-ticket for one meal per day