Brazil election body rejects Bolsonaro’s push to void votes

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The head of Brazil’s electoral authority on Wednesday rejected a request by President Jair Bolsonaro and his political party to nullify ballots cast on most electronic voting machines, which would have overturned the October 30 election.

Alexandre de Moraes issued an earlier ruling that markedly raised the possibility that Bolsonaro’s party could face such a challenge. He conditioned the analysis of the request on the presentation of a revised report to include the results of the first election round on October 2, in which the Liberal Party won more seats in both houses of Congress than any other, and he spent 24 hours installation deadline.

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

“The utter bad faith of the plaintiff’s bizarre and illegal request … was proved both by the refusal to add to the preliminary pleading and by the total absence of any evidence of irregularities and the existence of a story of complete fabrication of facts,” De Moraes wrote in his decision hours later.

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

On Tuesday, De Bessa filed a 33-page request on behalf of Bolsonaro and Costa, citing a software bug in most of Brazil’s machines – their internal logs lack personal identification numbers – to argue that their All votes recorded by should be cancelled. De Bessa said that doing so would leave Bolsonaro with 51% of the remaining valid votes.

Neither Costa nor de Besa have clarified how the bug may have affected the election results. Independent experts consulted by The Associated Press said that while newly discovered, this does not affect reliability and that each voting machine is still easily identifiable by other means. De Moraes said the same thing in his order on Thursday.

He also wrote that the challenge to the vote was intended to encourage anti-democratic protest movements and cause uproar, and ordered an investigation into Costa and appointed consultants to conduct an evaluation.

“De Moraes’ message to the political establishment is: The game is over. It is not fair to question the outcome of the election, and people and institutions who do so will be severely punished,” Political Science at the State University of Rio de Janeiro Professor Mauricio Santoro said.

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

On 30 October the electoral authority confirmed the victory of leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, much to Bolsonaro’s dismay, and even many of the president’s allies quickly accepted the results. Protesters in cities across the country have consistently refused to do so, notably Bolsonaro’s refusal.

Bolsonaro has spent more than a year claiming that Brazil’s electronic voting system is prone to fraud, without offering 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 audible paper trail. But Brazil’s system has been closely scrutinized by domestic and international experts, who have never found evidence of it being exploited to commit fraud.

Brazil election body rejects Bolsonaro’s push to void votes

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