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Brazilians to return to Framingham High for runoff election October 5, 2010
Scott O'Connell 508-626-4449 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM -- With a runoff election needed to decide Brazil's next president, Brazilians in the region will be returning to Framingham High School on Halloween for another vote.

Joe Pinheiro, a spokesman for the Brazilian Workers Party, said the Brazilian Consulate of Boston, which rented the high school for the first round of voting on Sunday, plans to hold the runoff election there as well on Oct. 31.

Matt Torti, director of the school building and grounds department, said the consulate had booked that date in addition to Sunday in its initial rental agreement with the district.

Like it did for Sunday's election, the consulate will pay for all costs associated with holding the event, Torti said.

Fewer registered voters than expected turned out for Sunday's vote in Framingham. According to the Workers Party, 5,641 Brazilians cast their vote that day, far fewer than the 10,000 or so the group had anticipated.

For voters in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island, Framingham was the nearest polling location available that day. Pinheiro said the high school's distant location might have discouraged some voters.

"A lot of people learned late they had to go to Framingham," he said. "When they found out, they thought it was too far."

Other Brazilians who made it to the polls left before voting because of the long lines, which Pinheiro estimated caused as long as a 40-minute wait.

Despite those issues, Pinheiro said the election went well.

Police spokesman Lt. Ron Brandolini said the election was mostly uneventful aside from some traffic. There were police details at the high school throughout the day, and Brandolini said there were no arrests made or major protests.

Pinheiro said there were a few protesters at the event. In a posting on the MetroWest Daily News web site, Joe Rizoli said members of his anti-illegal immigration organization set up outside polls on Sunday.

"I heard they showed up, but nobody gave them any attention," he said.

High school principal Michael Welch said there was little trace of the election at the school when students and teachers returned yesterday morning.

"We came in, and everything was normal," he said.

Welch, who hadn't heard about the consulate's rental agreement for Oct. 31, said he didn't know yet if that election would conflict with any school activities planned that day.

Local organizations occasionally rent the high school on weekends, he said, but events like Sunday's election are unusual.

Because none of the presidential candidates had secured a majority of the vote, Brazilian law calls for a runoff election between the candidates with the most votes.

That means Brazilians on Oct. 31 will decide between Workers Party candidate Dilma Rousseff and Brazilian Social Democratic Party candidate Jose Serra.

The candidates are vying for the seat of current President Lula da Silva, who is stepping down after eight years in office.

In the Framingham voting, Pinheiro said Serra pulled off a minor upset over Rousseff, 1,938 votes to 1,795. Serra's popularity may have been owed to the influence of the more conservative-leaning Brazilian press in the U.S., Pinheiro said.

Rousseff led in the overall voting, he added.

Brazilian citizens had to have registered at the consulate to vote in Sunday's election. According to the Workers Party, there are 12,000 registered voters in New England, minus Connecticut, and 60,000 total in the U.S.

Brazilians vote in presidential election October 4, 2010
Kendall Hatch Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM -- Thousands of Brazilians from across New New England flocked to Framingham High School yesterday to cast their votes in the South American country's general election.

"Voting is the way you show you are really Brazilian still," said Webster's Rodolpho Moraes shortly after arriving at the school yesterday. "It's bringing me close to my home country."

A long line of voters waiting to choose Brazil's next president wrapped along a school wall around noon yesterday, with people waiting over an hour to cast their votes.

After two terms in office, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is stepping aside. The popular president endorsed Dilma Rousseff of the Brazilian Workers Party as his successor.

Last night, Rousseff was leading with 45.9 percent of the votes with 91 percent of the vote counted, according to the Associated Press. A candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote in order to avoid a second, run-off election. Behind Rousseff in the polls was Jose Serra of the Brazilian Social Democrat Party.

If Rousseff wins, she will be Brazil's first female president.

The Brazilian Workers Party expected 12,000 people from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island to cast their votes in Framingham yesterday. About 60,000 registered Brazilian voters live in the United States, according to the Workers Party. For New England voters to participate in yesterday's election, they had to first register at the Brazilian Consulate in Boston.

Moraes was joined by a group of friends from across Massachusetts and New Hampshire - members of a motorcycle club dubbed Motoclube BR040. After pulling in the parking lot, they lined up their bikes and draped Brazilian flags over them before hopping in line.

Moraes said he has lived in the states for five years but has family and friends in Brazil. Even though voting in Brazilian elections is mandatory for citizens - even those living outside the country's borders - Moraes said he would be casting his vote for the sake of his loved ones back home.

"Everybody here has the dream of a better Brazil," he said. "Choosing the right president is a good way to start."

The polling place in Framingham was set up by the Brazilian Consulate in Boston. Officials there could not be reached for comment yesterday afternoon. The consulate rented the school and paid for all the costs associated with holding the election at the site.

Auburn's Alice Urbanowski was slowly making her way up the stairs into the school yesterday afternoon after waiting in line for an hour and 15 minutes.

"We don't have a choice. We have to vote," she said. "But this is also the only way that hopefully Brazil can move ahead. It affects everybody."

Urbanowski said she has family and friends in Brazil that she would be keeping in mind as she cast her ballot.

"It's very important to me," she said.

She said she has dual-citizenship in Brazil and the United States and will be voting in the November mid-term elections as well.

Everett's Patricia Oliveira said she was impressed at the turnout yesterday and said she didn't remember so many people turning up to vote at the last general election four years ago. She said she too was casting her vote thinking of loved ones back in Brazil.

"Even if we don't live there our family lives there," she said. "We need to think of what's (good) for over there."

At midday yesterday, there were no protesters at the school and the police presence was small.

Republican candidate for the Seventh Congressional District Gerry Dombrowski held a press conference at the school yesterday morning praising what he called an efficient Brazilian voting system. The electronic systems sends votes back to Brazil much quicker than the current U.S. absentee voting system in place, and Dembrowski said similar services should be available for servicemen and women overseas.

12,000 expected to vote in Brazilian election at Framingham High School October 2, 2010
Scott O'Connell 508-626-4449 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM -- Thousands of Brazilians from all over New England will be coming to Framingham High School tomorrow to vote in an election half a world away.

Around 12,000 registered Brazilian voters are expected to show up at the polls between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to choose Brazil's next president.

With current President Lula da Silva stepping down after eight years in office, his party's chosen successor, Dilma Rousseff, is the leading candidate in this year's election.

If Rousseff can't secure a majority of votes tomorrow, a runoff election would be held in which the highest vote-getters would advance to a second round of voting.

Brazilians all over the United States will be casting votes. Those living in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island will be heading to the polling place in Framingham, which was set up by the Brazilian Consulate in Boston.

Fernando Igreja, deputy consul general of Brazil to Boston, said the consulate chose the location because of its size and its proximity to the large Brazilian population living in MetroWest.

"The only place we found where it was possible to do this was Framingham," he said.

Local officials said the consulate went through all the proper channels to hold the election at the site.

About two months ago, a representative for the consulate met with the School Department's building and grounds director, Matt Torti, and high school Principal Michael Welch to inquire about renting the building.

Torti said that in accordance with that rental agreement, the consulate will pay for all costs associated with hosting the event, from custodial staff to police details.

Officials gave varying estimates of how many voters would show up, but the Brazilian Workers Party, which organizes voters across the United States, anticipated 12,000 at the Framingham site.

There are 60,000 registered Brazilian voters in the United States, according to the Workers Party.

Claudia Tamsky, a spokeswoman for the group, said that voting population is comprised of many types of Brazilian citizens, from those with dual citizenship to people in the country on visas.

To vote in the election, Brazilians had to register at the consulate in Boston.

"It shows their dedication," she said. "I have people who are going to drive all the way from Vermont to vote."

Many of them have families still living in Brazil that could be affected by the election's outcome. Others view voting as an obligation of their Brazilian citizenship, Tamsky said.

Some also may be planning to emigrate back to Brazil, which is becoming a world economic power. There is no obligation for Brazilians to vote in this election to return to the country, but Tamsky said many want to ensure that the current government stays in power to oversee Brazil's resurgence.

Although some Americans may be critical of people voting for another country's president while here, Tamsky said immigrants from many other countries also participate in their home nation's elections from the United States.

She said many Brazilians with dual citizenship like herself will be vote in the U.S. midterm elections next month.

"We are for the development of both countries," she said.

Despite the high turnout expected tomorrow, as well as the potential for protests, Framingham Police as of yesterday had been hired to supply just two detail officers - paid for by the consulate - to be at the high school throughout the day.

"We're going to be monitoring it," said police spokesman Lt. Ron Brandolini.

He said more officers may be sent depending on the situation.

Torti said the high school should be able to handle the large numbers, which he expects will be spread out over the day.

"This is not something that's typical for us," he said. "But they're not coming all at once."

Because the consulate is "paying for all of it," he said the event may also be a financial benefit for the school system. Torti didn't have the exact fee the consulate was paying to rent the high school, but he said rental payments are put into the district's civic use account.

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