Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022

The head of Brazil’s electoral authority on Wednesday rejected a request by President Jair Bolsonaro and his political party to cancel the ballots inserted in most electronic voting machines, which would have invalidated the Oct. 30 election.

Alexandre de Moraes made a previous decision that implicitly indicated the possibility that Bolsonaro’s party could suffer from such a challenge. He conditioned the analysis of the request on the presentation of an amended report that includes results from the first round of elections, on October 2, in which the Liberal Party won more seats in both houses of Congress than any other, and established 24 hours. deadline.

Earlier on Wednesday, party president Valdemar Costa and lawyer Marcelo de Bessa held a press conference and said there would be no change to the report.

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

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It also imposed a fine of 23 million reais ($4.3 million) for the bad faith litigation.

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On Tuesday, de Bessa filed a 33-page application on behalf of Bolsonaro and Costa citing a software error in most of Brazil’s machines – they are missing individual identification numbers in their internal records – to argue that all the votes they recorded should be annulled. De Bessa said that in that case, Bolsonaro would have 51 percent of the remaining valid votes.

Neither Costa nor de Bessa explained how the error could have affected the election results. Independent experts consulted by The Associated Press said that while it was newly discovered, it did not affect reliability and that each voting machine was still easily identifiable by other means. In his decision on Thursday, de Moraes noted the same.

He also wrote that the vote challenge appeared aimed at inciting anti-democratic protest movements and creating disorder, and ordered an investigation into Costa and the consultant hired to conduct the evaluation.

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

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At a press conference on Wednesday, Costa said his intention was only to prevent the results of the 2022 election from haunting Brazil in the future.

On October 30, electoral authorities confirmed the victory of Bolsonaro’s nemesis, leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and even many of the president’s allies were quick to accept the results. Protesters in cities across the country have steadfastly refused to do the same, especially with Bolsonaro’s refusal to agree.

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

The South American nation 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 has been used for fraud.

© 2022 The Canadian Press