Brazilians wait for official results in presidential vote

 By Helena de Moura, CNN

(CNN) — Millions of voters lined up across Brazil’s vast territory on Sunday in a heated presidential runoff pitting Dilma Rousseff, a former guerrilla-fighter-turned-chief-of-staff against Sao Paulo Governor Jose Serra.

Officials with Brazil’s supreme electoral tribunal (TSE) said 135 million registered voters are expected to choose Brazil’s next head of state.

While Brazil’s official IBOPE poll has declared Rousseff, who is running on the PT Worker’s Party ballot, the winner, a more cautious TSE has reported that with 85 percent of the votes counted, Rousseff is leading Serra 54.67 percent to 45.33 percent.

Rousseff — President Luiz Inacio da Silva’s right-hand woman — has served as his chief of staff. Previously, as energy minister, she claims to have helped turn Brazil into one of the world’s leading energy giants. A former left-wing guerrilla fighter during the military dictatorship rule in the 1960s, Rousseff said during a congressional hearing that she was “barbarically tortured” after she was charged with subversion by the military regime.

Her opponent, Jose Serra, also suffered persecution during Brazil’s military rule and was forced into exile during the 1960s.

A centrist politician, he served as health minister during Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s government. He recently left his job as governor of Brazil’s richest state, Sao Paulo, to run for presidency.

Voters living abroad correspond to about 0.15 percent of the Brazilian electorate, about 200,000.

In 60 Brazilian cities, voters are using their thumbs instead of ballots on a newly launched biometric system, where voters scan their fingers to log in and vote.

TSE officials said all regions, however remote, will have the ubiquitous electronic voting machine. In indigenous areas in the Amazon, these voting machines are delivered by boats and helicopters. It costs the state of Amazonas 5 million reais. (U.S. $3 million) to place the voting machines.

One of the most challenging trajectories, officials said, is the one to Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, a densly-forested area in the Amazon.

“There, our electronic machines first leave Manaus by plane,” said Pedro Batista, TSE Director for the Amazon.

“It’s loaded onto a helicopter, and then travels by boat before being carried on some one’s back for a long walk to a remote village,” he said.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, voters faced heavy rains and threats of flooding.

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