Since 1995, when Unisys Corp. won a contract to provide an automated voting system for 252 cities in Brazil, and the following year, when Unisys supplied 77,000 voting machines to collect 35 million votes, the country has been on a more automated path for elections than the U.S.
Two subsequent contracts to expand the Brazilian voting system to 105 million voters and 300,000 machines went to Taiwan-based Procomp Informatics Ltd.
According to Bob Cook, the vice president for Latin American business at Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys, every adult in Brazil is required by law to vote. The country needed a system that would eliminate a history of fraud in its national elections and that could get around any illiteracy barriers for the voters, he said.
The machines also needed to be reprogrammable for local elections.
"In Brazil, with 77,000 units, it was logical for us to go after the business, but California is the only state which might be large enough to make it worthwhile by itself," he said. "Whether the federal government will step in and take charge like they did in Brazil is something we don't know at this time."
In the U.S., Cook observed, elections are decentralized down to the state and county level.