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Brazil’s Election Office Rejects Bolsonaro’s Attempt to Invalidate Votes

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RIO DE JANEIRO – The head of Brazil’s electoral authority has rejected a request from President Jair Bolsonaro’s political party to cancel the votes cast on most electronic voting machines, which would have nullified the October 30 election.

Alexandre de Moraes had made an earlier statement that implicitly raised the possibility that Bolsonaro’s liberal party could suffer from such a challenge. He conditioned the request’s analysis on the presentation of an amended report detailing the results of the first round of elections on October 2, in which the party won more seats in both houses of Congress than any other, and set a 24-hour deadline. .

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

“The complete bad faith of the plaintiff’s bizarre and unauthorized request … was proved both by the refusal to add to the original petition and by the total absence of any evidence of irregularities and the existence of a full fraudulent narrative of the facts,” de Moraes wrote hours later in his decision.

He also ordered the suspension of government funds for the Liberal Party coalition until a 23 million reais ($4.3 million) fine is paid for bad faith litigation.

On Tuesday, de Bessa filed a 33-page request on behalf of Bolsonaro and Costa, citing a software flaw in most of Brazil’s machines — they don’t have individual identification numbers in their internal logs — to claim that any votes they recorded must be voided. be declared. De Bessa said this would give Bolsonaro 51% of the remaining valid votes.

Neither Costa nor De Bessa have explained how the bug could have affected the election results. Independent experts consulted by The Associated Press said that while newly discovered, it does not affect reliability and that each voting machine is still easily identifiable in other ways. In his statement, de Moraes made the same point.

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

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

At Wednesday’s press conference, Costa said his intention is to prevent the results of the 2022 election from haunting Brazil in the future.

The electoral authority ratified the victory of Bolsonaro’s nemesis, left-wing former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on October 30, 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 as Bolsonaro refused to budge.

Bolsonaro has claimed for more than a year that Brazil’s electronic voting system is susceptible to fraud, never presenting 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 closely watched by domestic and international experts who have never found evidence that it is being exploited to commit fraud.

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