Brazil’s electoral agency rejects Bolsonaro’s demand to annul the vote

RIO DE JANEIRO – The head of the electoral authority of Brazil rejected the demand of the political party of President Jair Bolsonaro to annul the ballots on most electronic voting machines, which would nullify the results of the October 30 election.

Alexander de Moraes issued a preliminary ruling that hinted at the possibility that Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party could suffer from such a challenge. He conditioned the analysis of the request on the presentation of an amended report that includes the results of the first round of elections on October 2, during which the party won more seats in both houses of Congress than any other, and set a 24-hour deadline.

Earlier on Wednesday, party president Valdemar Costa and lawyer Marcelo de Besa held a press conference and said there would be no amended report.

“The total bad faith of the plaintiff’s strange and illegal request … was demonstrated both by the refusal to add to the original petition and by the complete absence of any evidence of violations and the existence of a completely false narrative of the facts,” de Moraes wrote in his decision a few hours later.

He also ordered the suspension of public funds for the Liberal Party coalition until a fine of 23 million reais ($4.3 million) is paid for the unfair trial.

On Tuesday, de Besa filed a 33-page request on behalf of Bolsonaro and Costa, citing a software error in most Brazilian machines – they lack individual identification numbers in their internal logs – to argue that all the votes they recorded should be annulled. De Besa said that would leave Bolsonaro with 51% of the remaining valid votes.

Neither Costa nor de Besa explained how the error could have affected the election results. Independent experts consulted by The Associated Press said that although it was recently discovered, it did not affect reliability and each voting machine could still be easily identified by other means. In his ruling, de Moraes noted the same.

He also wrote that the challenge to the vote was aimed at fueling anti-democratic protest movements and creating unrest, 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 the election results is not fair game, and people and institutions that do so will be severely punished,” said Mauricio Santoro, a political science professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Costa said he simply intended to prevent the results of the 2022 vote from haunting Brazil in the future.

Electoral authorities on October 30 ratified the victory of Bolsonaro’s nemesis, leftist former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, and even many of the president’s allies were quick to accept the results. Protesters in cities across the country steadfastly refused to do the same, especially with Bolsonaro refuses to budge.

Bolsonaro spent more than a year claiming that Brazil’s electronic voting system is prone to fraudnever presenting evidence.

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

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