Brazil's October 7 elections are now at hand and so is information to help voters decide how and who to vote for, thanks to a proliferation of a range of political mobile apps.
A quick search of the app stores shows there are dozens of platforms devoted to tracking, mapping and ranking the candidates and their proposals, and they even list those of them with a criminal record or who have faced a lawsuit in the past.
There are apps summarizing the proposals of the main contenders, explaining key aspects of the electoral process or providing other important services to the public, such as the digital version of the voter registration with information on polling stations and times, for example.
BNamericas took a look at some of the best apps:
RANKING OF POLITICIANS
Compiling data from the Portal da Transparência (transparency platform), local NGO Ranking dos Políticos (ranking of politicians) came up with an Android app that evaluates the performance of current lawmakers based on a series of criteria.
To create the ranking, the platform mines information from official sources including attendance in voting and general congressional sessions, number of bills or amendments presented, expenses, judicial processes and legislative quality of all 513 federal lawmakers and 81 senators.
The idea is to help voters elect honest representatives, with a clean record and positive performance in congress, according to the developers.
The app also provides segmented information on state representatives, while a special tool allows the voter to find information by sharing the image of a candidate.
"This is an extremely intuitive and easy-to-use platform. Brazilians will be able to assess a politician seeking re-election or get a better idea of the work of other parliamentarians in a much more detailed way," said Renato Dias at Ranking dos Políticos.
All information used in the ranking is publicly available on the official websites of the senate and the lower house, as well the courts of justice.
The platform has been up and running since 2012, later being adapted for smartphones, with over 10,000 downloads on the Android store so far.
Having surpassed the 100,000-download mark, the app Guia do Voto (voting guide) claims to clarify common doubts about the electoral process, such as the effect of null or blank ballots on the election, and explains the process of creating laws in congress. It also presents the parties that are most closely aligned with the ideas the user considers important.
The system was based on content created by political scientist Humberto Dantas, a researcher at local think tank FGV. The guide is said to be "nonpartisan and ideologically neutral" and uses information from official sources.
The app offers a quiz on election history, the electoral system, political parties, and the legislative and executive branches of government.
In the section of the app entitled "If I were a politician", the user is able to express their opinion on important topics that have been discussed in congress, such as student financing rules or reducing the age of criminal liability.
After each answer, the user can see how the parties voted on each topic and, at the end of the questions, the app identifies those more closely in line with their ideas. It also lists the candidates for each position in the parties with which the voter has the highest affinity, offering a link to the specific website of each candidate on the electoral court (TSE) website to allow further research.
Corruption has been an important issue in Brazil and is seen as an indisputable criterion for many when deciding who to vote for. Based on this, the Detector de Ficha de Político (politician record detector) app was created to list all the politicians that have faced or are facing lawsuits.
The application integrates the "Vigie Aqui" project developed by Instituto Reclama Aqui, which is known for developing similar programs on consumer rights and for maintaining the best-known Brazilian customer complaint portal.
The app has now been downloaded over 500,000 times.
Based on public justice databases and transparency websites, the Detector de Ficha de Político informs the user of the criminal status of all candidates in this Sunday's election, as well as which accusations they have or are facing.
It is possible to search for candidate by name or even using an image of the politician.
This app from the TSE includes a digital version of the voter registration, including information on polling stations and times, for example.
For voters who have already conducted the biometric registration process, it is possible to sign up in the app and then use a smartphone as a voter identification instead of bringing an official document with a photo to the polling station.
Papers like Folha de São Paulo and news services like G1, from Globo, have also launched their own platforms.
In the case of Folha, the Match Eleitoral tool works as a kind of "electoral Tinder". The system compares voters' responses on behavioral, economic and political issues with the political position of all candidates to highlight those with the highest share of matching responses. Afterwards it is possible to view the results using filters and search functions.
The platform is available to conduct searches among federal lawmakers and senators from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states.
As of Thursday, the system had reportedly surpassed 800,000 combinations made by users in the search for their ideal political matches.