Brazil’s electoral body rejects Bolsonaro’s request to cancel the vote

RIO DE JANEIRO –

The head of Brazil’s electoral body on Wednesday rejected a request by President Jair Bolsonaro and his political party to cancel the ballots cast in most of the electronic voting machines that would nullify the Oct. 30 election.

Alexandre de Moraes made a previous decision that clearly raised the possibility that Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party could suffer from such a problem. It stipulated a 24-hour deadline for the review of the request to submit an amended report to include the results of the Oct. 2 first round, in which the party won more seats in both houses of Congress. .

On Wednesday, the party’s president, Valdemar Costa, and lawyer Marcelo de Bessa, held a press conference and said there would be no revised report.

“The sheer bad faith of plaintiff’s outlandish and illegal demand … is evidenced by both the refusal to add to the original motion, the complete absence of any evidence of wrongdoing, and the existence of a completely false narrative of the facts.” de Moraes wrote in his decision a few hours later.

He also ordered a freeze on government funds for his Liberal Party coalition until a fine of 23 million reais ($4.3 million) is paid for bad faith litigation.

On Tuesday, de Bessa filed a 33-page request on behalf of Bolsonaro and Costa, citing a software error on most of the Brazilian machines — whose internal records lack individual identification numbers — demanding that all the votes they recorded be canceled. De Bessa said this would give Bolsonaro 51% of the remaining valid votes.

Neither Costa nor de Bessa explained how the error affected the election results. Independent experts consulted by The Associated Press said the new discovery did not affect reliability and that each voting machine could still be easily identified by other means. In his ruling on Thursday, de Moraes made the same point.

He also wrote that the call for a vote was intended to incite anti-democratic protest movements and create confusion, and ordered an investigation into Costa and the consultant hired to conduct the assessment.

“De Moraes’ message to the political establishment is this: the game is over. Questioning election results is not fair game, and people and institutions that do so will be severely punished,” political scientist Mauricio Santoro said. State University of Rio de Janeiro.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Costa said his intention was simply to prevent the results of the 2022 vote from haunting Brazil into the future.

On October 30, the electoral body confirmed the victory of Bolsonaro’s nemesis, leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and even many of the president’s allies quickly accepted the results. Protesters in various cities across the country have steadfastly refused to do the same, especially with Bolsonaro refusing to acknowledge it.

Bolsonaro has spent more than a year claiming Brazil’s electronic voting system is prone to fraud without ever providing evidence.

The South American country began using electronic voting systems in 1996, and election security experts consider such systems less secure than hand-marked paper ballots because they leave no verifiable paper trail. But Brazil’s system has been scrutinized by local and international experts and has never found evidence that it was used to commit fraud.