Voting in National Elections in Brazil

Find out how the voting system works in Brazil...

Brazil is officially a democratic federative republic. The current constitution was introduced in 1988. A president or head of state is elected for a four-year term, with the possibility of one additional sequential term.

The legislature or national congress (Congresso National) of Brazil consists of two chambers:

  • Chamber of Deputies (Câmara dos Deputados) - there are 513 deputies, each elected for a four-year term using a proportional representation system
  • Federal Senate (Senado Federal) - there are 81 members, each selected for an eight-year term

There are 26 states and a federal district (Distrito Federal), Brasília. The States have a relatively high degree of autonomy on non-federal issues.

Brazil has a multi-party system, and due to the high number of political parties, coalition governments are the norm.

The Judiciary consists of a supreme federal court. Judges are appointed by the president for life, however they must retire at the age of seventy. The legal system is based on the Roman codes.


Voting is compulsory in Brazil. Brazilian citizens living outside of Brazil are still required to vote and can do so at their nearest Embassy. Elections occur on Sundays.

Who is eligible to vote

  • Non-Brazilians (including those with permanent residency) cannot vote in national elections in Brazil
  • Brazilian citizens between the ages of eighteen and seventy are obliged to vote
  • Citizens aged sixteen to eighteen and over seventy can choose whether they vote or not
  • Military conscripts do not vote

Citizens that do not vote, though they are obliged to do so, may have difficulties when obtaining a passport, bank account or credit facilities.

The voting system

Electronic voting systems have been used in Brazil since 1996, though they weren't used throughout the entire country until 2000. Voters use machines that display both the name and a photo of the candidates, in order to accurately identify their selection. The system may be upgraded in the future to on-screen fingerprint recognition, in order to identity voters and reinforce election security.