Minister considers three military suggestions essential for election

Defense Minister Paulo Sergio Nogueira said that the military considers three of the 15 proposals that the Armed Forces have already submitted to the Election Transparency Commission of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) to be “essential”.Minister considers three military suggestions essential for electionMinister considers three military suggestions essential for election

“There are three proposals that we consider important and that, if accepted – and there is still time to accept them – [para as eleições deste ano] – would solve a lot of things”, declared Nogueira when he participated, today (14), in a public hearing held by the Commission for Inspection and Control of the Senate.

The suggestions made under the pretext of “improving the electoral process” ask that the integrity test to which electronic voting machines are submitted reproduce the same conditions as on polling day, including the use of biometric identification of voters. “This would reduce the possibility of malicious code [malware] evade the test”, justified Nogueira.

The military also proposes that electronic voting machines that the Electoral Justice acquired from 2020 be subjected to the Public Security Test. According to the minister, it is estimated that around 39% of the equipment that will be used in this year’s elections will be among them.

“To the best of our knowledge, no public safety testing has been carried out on these [novas] ballots. The court’s justification is that these are highly technological urns, with a very high-generation cryptographic system and that there would be no need for the test”, said Nogueira, adding that the measure would reduce any doubts about the integrity of the equipment.

Also classified by Nogueira as a “consideration”, the third of the proposals is for the TSE to make effective the participation of “inspection entities” in all eight phases of the electoral process.

“There are three proposals that we understand as essential and we urge [estimulamos] so that we can talk about them”, urged the minister, stating that the adoption of the measures would minimize “all the pressure, all the technical and political discussion” around the security of the electoral system. “We present plausible and workable proposals that are not out of this world.”

consulted by Brazil Agency In order for it to comment on the suggestions, the Superior Electoral Court has not yet ruled on the matter. The President of the Court, Minister Edson Fachin, was invited by the Inspection and Control Commission to participate in the public hearing, but stated that he already had other appointments scheduled for the same date.

In May of this year, representatives of the Federal Police, the Federal Public Ministry, the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), the National Congress and the Federal Audit Court (TCU), as well as members of the academic and scientific areas that participated in the Public Security Test signed a report that points that the electronic electoral system is “integral and secure”, even if “it presents room for improvement in terms of the quality of the project and dependence on external security mechanisms”.

Yesterday (13), the Federal Audit Court (TCU) made public the result of an audit that showed that there was no “risks relevant to the holding of the 2022 elections” in Brazil. The audit, however, “will still continue with the assessment of auditability requirements of the procedures established by the TSE”.

Technician

Invited to accompany the Minister of Defense to the Senate and make a technical presentation during the public hearing, Colonel Marcelo Nogueira de Souza, from the Army, praised the electronic security measures that the TSE has been implementing over the years, but did not rule out “some threats” to the system.

“We recognize that there has been incredible progress in the security of the electronic voting machine and the electronic voting system, but also that these contributions have been made a lot in [função de] one [possível] external threat”, commented the colonel, noting that the information that the TSE provided to the military invited to join the Elections Transparency Commission was insufficient to assess the real potential risk of the equipment suffering from what he classified as “internal threats”.

“Regarding external threats, there is indeed a high level of protection. The urn does not connect to the internet and has no other connections [em rede]. Regarding internal threats, we do not have available, so far, the documentation that leads us to form a conclusive opinion. But, as a threat, as a vulnerability, it is possible to insert a malicious code that remains there, latent, waiting for some kind of activation and that evades the tests”, added Souza.

For the military man, who has a degree in Telecommunications Engineering and a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering, one of the weaknesses of the system lies in the fact that, according to the TSE itself, about 10% of the polls tend to have problems on election day and, therefore, that need to be replaced. According to Souza, the ballot boxes do not pass integrity tests, but are put to use as needed.

“It is possible that malicious code is installed in the reserve boxes,” said Souza. “For this and other possibilities of using malware by internal agent, we propose a small change to what is already established. Consistent with a resolution of the TSE itself, which provides for testing the ballot boxes under real conditions of use, [sugerimos] what [algumas] urns are chosen so that, instead of being taken to the TREs [Tribunais Regionais Eleitorais]would be placed in parallel in the [própria] election session, where there would be [seria usada por] voters with biometrics. The voter would vote and be asked if he would like to contribute to the ballot box test, generating a registration flow in the test ballot box similar to the original ballot box. After that, the servers would vote on a paper ballot that would be checked with the ballot box. The random choice of polls [testes] it would modify small procedures already established, but would bring a greater degree of security in relation to possible threats”, concluded the colonel.

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