ICTs and citizens’ trust in government: lessons from electronic voting in Brazil

This study looks into the relationship in Brazil between ICT use in voting mechanisms and citizen trust in government. The electronic voting system of Brazil is widely trusted by the citizens of the country and international observers as an efficient and reliable mechanism of producing elections results that accurately represent the choices of the electorate.

The paper examines the conditions contributing to such an attitude of trust towards a government institution. The study takes the position that the observed trust is only partly attributable to the trustworthiness merits of the technical system and its enactment procedures. Two other factors play a significant role in the formation of this trust, namely a positive predisposition of citizens towards ICT and towards the institutional actors responsible for the elections – the Superior and the Regional Electoral Courts. The paper concludes that, unlike common assumptions about the potential of e-government to restore trust in government institutions in developing countries where such trust is lacking, the production of trust in ICT-mediated government services relies on the competencies of these institutions and citizens’ perceptions of their trustworthiness.

Chrisanthi Avgerou
Andrea Ganzaroli
Angeliki Poulymenakou
Nicolau Reinhard
© International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries, 2007