“Digital signature”, “zerésima”: see the TSE technical dictionary for the 2022 elections.

Image: Antonio Augusto/Ascom/TSE

Cryptography, blockchain, malware, security seals, zeroth… It’s a very different term that follows this year’s election. Therefore, the TSE (Higher Electoral Court) has just launched technological glossary for counseling.

The texts are short and very informative about 33 entries that may not have such a clear meaning for those who are not from that area, but are very present in the election process.

See the meaning of some technical terms of the 2022 election

Digital signature

It is a technology used to authenticate electronic documents. It uses cryptographic keys – that is, a protocol that prevents unauthorized persons from reproducing the same signature. It has legal validity and can be used in contracts, powers of attorney, medical reports and other documents on the Internet.

Security barrier

It refers to 30 security layers to protect the electronic voting system from any intrusion attempt. In order to change the information, a hacker would have to go through several hurdles. According to TSE, this makes any attempt impossible. “The time and effort required would far outweigh the potential benefit, given the short time available during voting,” the court said.

ballot box

It is a paper report issued by an electronic voting machine at the end of voting. There it is possible to check the total votes of the polling station as soon as the elections are over – in this case from 5 pm onwards. The bulletin provides information such as total votes by party, by candidate, total nominal number, subheading, null and void votes. All are available on the TSE portal.

A ballot box comes out on papers like the one pictured, used in ballot box security tests with the federal police in August 2022. Image: LR Moreira/Secom/TSE

The original code of the ballot box

It is a set of lines of software programming that gives instructions for its operation. A programmer “writes” a program in a specific language and then converts it into machine language – the only language a computer can understand. The original ballot box code is shared with 16 institutions, including the Public Ministry, the National Congress, the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and the Federal Police.


Remember WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption? Encryption is a method of encrypting a particular message so that only those who share the key can decipher it. In the electoral court, encryption serves as a security mechanism to protect data such as the number of votes and voter biometrics. Since the data is “shuffled”, it is inaccessible to unauthorized persons.

flash card

It is a memory card with characteristics of reading and writing surveys, almost like HD. Floppy disks were used until the 2010 elections. After that, they turned into flash drives. But not just any pen drive: they have a physical format exclusively for the Electoral Court, which makes it easy to use and avoids connection problems.

Image: Antonio Augusto/Secom/TSE


Malware is any program or file that is harmful to the operation of digital equipment, such as computers and smartphones, for example. TSE says it is not possible for malware to get into the electronic voting machine. According to the agency, the motherboard has security hardware protected by epoxy resin, which cannot be turned off or disabled. This is what authenticates the programs used in the urn.

TSE safe room

A space inside the TSE, in Brasília, with 90 computers that store all data on the Brazilian electoral process, such as the national voter register, records and candidate accountability. It is a secure room that centralizes the counting and tallying of votes across the country. It is air-conditioned, fire and earthquake resistant.


The term zerésima represents the starting point for the start of voting in elections. Before the first voter goes to the ballot box, the presiding officer must already switch on the equipment in the presence of polling station officials and political party inspectors. There, therefore, he writes a report to the zerés, which confirms that the urn is zero – that is, without votes.

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