On Oct. 2, millions of Brazilians went to the polls to vote, including Brazilians outside the country. In Canada, there were only seven polling stations spread across the country for more than 130,000 Brazilians. This resulted in queues with thousands of people and hours of waiting. In addition to the time in line, many people also faced hours of travel to get to the city where they were supposed to vote.
“It is very inconvenient,” Hamilton resident Maria Luíza Asfora Lira said. “I have to pay around $13 to go, and another $13 to come back, and I’m just being a citizen, doing my duty as a Brazilian and I even have to pay for it. And for me it is not even that bad since it is just a little bit more than an hour to go to Toronto, but for people that live further, it is just too much.”
The polling station in Toronto, located at the CNE grounds, was far even for most people who live in the city. Toronto resident Hugo Padilha had to take the subway, the tram and the bus to vote, over an hour on public transportation to reach the voting station, plus over another hour waiting in the queue.
“In Brazil we have an electoral zone near home, so people can go vote somewhere five minutes away,” Padilha said. “Here, I had to travel for an hour just to reach the place where I’m voting.”
Voting being mandatory is a recurring discussion in Brazil. Some people believe that mandatory voting is not the right way to exercise democracy.
“A forced democracy cannot be called actual democracy,” Letícia Rangel Dourado said.
“Voting being mandatory has its pros and cons,” Maria Luíza Asfora Lira said. “On the one hand, mandatory voting forces people to study and research so that their vote goes to a candidate who has proposals that the person will like. On the other hand, a lot of people won’t care enough and will just vote for the first one they see.”
The voters will have to make the trip again at the end of the month, as the next election phase will happen on Oct. 30, between presidential candidates Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Jair Messias Bolsonaro.