Brazil’s electoral body rejects Bolsonaro’s claim to invalidate vote

RIO DE JANEIRO — The head of Brazil’s electoral authorities on Wednesday rejected a request by President Jair Bolsonaro and his party to abolish voting on most electronic voting machines, which would have overturned the Oct. 30 election. election.

Alexandre de Moraes had previously issued a ruling suggesting that Bolsonaro’s party could face such a challenge. He made his analysis of the request conditional on submitting a revised report that included the results of the first round of the Oct. 2 election in which the Liberals won more seats in both houses of Congress than any other party, and he established a 24-hour final the term.

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

“Plaintiff’s bizarre and unlawful request is wholly malicious…to be denied addition to the original petition and the utter absence of evidence of any irregularities and the existence of a completely fraudulent account of the facts,” de Moraes said hours later in his decision.

He also imposed a fine of 23 million reais ($4.3 million) for malicious 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 — which do not have PINs in their internal logs — arguing that they All ballots recorded should be voided. Doing so would give Bolsonaro 51 percent of the remaining valid votes, De Bessa said.

Neither Costa nor de Bessa explained how the error might have affected the election outcome. Independent experts consulted by The Associated Press said that while the discovery was new, it did not affect reliability and that each voting machine was still easily identifiable by other means. In Thursday’s ruling, De Morais pointed to the same issue.

He also wrote that the challenge vote appeared designed to galvanize an anti-democratic protest movement and create unrest, and ordered an investigation into the assessment of Costa and the consultants he hired.

“De Moras’ message to the political establishment is: the game is over. It is unfair to question the election results, and people and institutions who do so will be severely punished,” said Mauricio Santoro, a professor of political science at Rio de Janeiro State University. (Maurício Santoro) said.

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

Electoral authorities sanctioned the victory of Bolsonaro’s arch-nemesis, leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on Oct. 30, a result that was quickly embraced even by many of the president’s allies. Protesters in cities across the country have staunchly refused to do so, especially as Bolsonaro refuses to back down.

Bolsonaro has spent more than a year claiming that Brazil’s electronic voting system was prone to fraud, but has never produced evidence.

The South American country began using electronic voting systems in 1996, which election security experts say are less secure than handwritten ballots because they leave no auditable paper trail. But Brazil’s system has been closely scrutinized by experts at home and abroad, who have never found evidence it was being used to commit fraud.

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