Bolsonaro requests to challenge in Brazil the elections he lost to ‘Lula’

The Liberal Party asked the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) on Tuesday to annul the votes of more than 280,000 electronic ballot boxes, arguing that “functioning failures” have prevented the re-election of Jair Bolsonaro against ‘Lula’ da Silva on October 30. A resource with little chance of success.

More than three weeks after losing his re-election, outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday blamed a software bug and demanded the electoral authority annul votes cast on most of Brazil’s electronic voting machines.

Such an action would leave Bolsonaro with 51% of the remaining valid votes and a re-election victory, Marcelo de Bessa, the lawyer who submitted the 33-page request on behalf of the president and his Liberal Party (PL), told reporters. which obtained the largest number of deputies and senators in the legislative elections.

“We request that the votes of the electronic ballot boxes in which insurmountable failures have been detected be annulled, and that the legal consequences of the results of the second round of October 30 be drawn,” reads the complaint filed by the Liberal Party.

PL leader Valdemar Costa and an auditor hired by the party told reporters in Brasilia that their assessment found that all machines dating from before 2020 – almost 280,000 of them, or about 59% of the total used in the second round of October 30 – lacked individual identification numbers in the internal records.

Neither explained how that might have affected the election results, but said they were asking the electoral authority to invalidate all votes cast on those machines.

The president of the Liberal Party of Brazil, Valdemar Costa Neto, attends a press conference in Brasilia, Brazil, on November 22, 2022. © REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

A movement that continues to deny the result of the elections

According to the official result, ‘Lula’ prevailed in that second round on October 30 with 50.9%, compared to the 49.1% obtained by Bolsonaro, in a process endorsed and recognized as transparent by all the national observer missions. and internationals who participated.

Bolsonaro’s loss of less than two points to da Silva was the narrowest margin since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985. But ‘Lula’s’ victory has been ratified by the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE). Those results have been recognized even by many of President Bolsonaro’s allies, such as Brazil’s top politicians and international allies.

However, Jair Bolsonaro’s claim could fuel a small but committed protest movement that has so far refused to accept the result, denouncing electoral fraud and demanding the intervention of the armed forces.

Alexandre de Moraes, the Supreme Court judge who currently heads the TSE, responded to the complaint by explaining that these ballot box models had been used not only in the second round, but also in the first, on October 2.

He said the court would not consider the complaint unless the PL offers an amended report within 24 hours that “refers to the two rounds,” otherwise it would be rejected without analysis.

But the annulment of a part of the votes obtained on October 2 would also have repercussions in the legislative elections, which were held on the same day, in the same ballot boxes. This could jeopardize the election of many PL parliamentarians.

The flaw was not previously known, but the experts said it did not affect the results either. According to Wilson Ruggiero, a professor of computer engineering and digital systems at the Polytechnic School of the University of Sao Paulo, each voting machine can still be easily identified by other means, such as its city and electoral district.

Two coalitions clash

Gleisi Hoffmann, the president of ‘Lula’s’ Workers’ Party (PT), described Bolsonaro’s electoral complaint as a “chicana”. “Enough of delays, irresponsibility, insults to institutions and democracy,” she wrote on Twitter.

“The election was decided with the vote and Brazil needs peace to build a better future,” added Hoffmann, who is also one of the heads of the transition team appointed by ‘Lula’.

The Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), a traditional rival of the PT, described Bolsonaro’s denunciation as “insane”, tweeting that it would be resisted “by the institutions, the international community and Brazilian society.”

Bolsonaro’s coalition said its audit of the October 30 runoff between Bolsonaro and ‘Lula’ had found “signs of irreparable malfunction” in some electronic voting machines.

“There were indications of serious flaws that create uncertainties and make it impossible to validate the results generated” in the older models of the voting machines, Bolsonaro’s allies said in their complaint. As a result, they urged that the votes of those models be “invalidated”.

An old complaint against electronic voting

Jair Bolsonaro has claimed for years that the country’s electronic voting system is susceptible to fraud, without providing any corroborating evidence.

Brazil began using an electronic voting system in 1996, and election security experts consider these systems less secure than hand-marked ballots because they do not leave an auditable paper trail.

However, the Brazilian system has been thoroughly examined by national and international experts, who have never found evidence that it has been exploited to commit fraud.

After the second round of the elections on October 30, Bolsonaro remained publicly silent for almost 48 hours and has still not conceded defeat, although he authorized his government to begin preparing a presidential transition.

Brazil’s president is one of Brazil’s most visible presences on social media and at public events in the past four years, but he has all but disappeared from public view in the past three weeks, with little to no formal agenda or statements. public on most days.

With Reuters, AFP, AP and EFE

Bolsonaro requests to challenge in Brazil the elections he lost to ‘Lula’