Bolsonaro challenges Brazil’s election result

President Bolsonaro in a motorcycle ride with supporters in the city of Campo Grande, in June. Image courtesy of Clauber Cleber Caetano, Presidency of the Republic of Brazil

São Paulo, Brazil – President Jair Bolsonaro filed a complaint Tuesday with Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE) challenging the result of last month’s runoff election that he lost to President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The complaint requests that the court invalidate votes from certain electronic voting machines. 

Despite the seriousness with which the matter was treated, it is unlikely that Bolsonaro will be able to reverse the defeat. The result of the elections has already been recognized by the electoral authority of Brazil, by important leaders of the international community and even by parties opposed to the president-elect in Brazil.

One of the main opponents of the Workers’ Party, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), called Bolsonaro’s complaint foolish and said that it will be objected to by Brazilian institutions and society.

Bolsonaro’s complaint 

The president’s complaint alleges a malfunction occurred in some old models of Brazil’s electronic voting machines which was discovered by a technical audit carried out by Instituto Voto Legal (IVL). The IVL is a private organization and was hired by the Liberal Party, to which Bolsonaro is affiliated, to independently audit the Brazilian elections.

The Liberal Party held a press conference to detail the allegations filed with Brazil’s electoral court.

President of the Liberal Party, Valdemar Costa Neto, during a press conference in Brasília / Image courtesy Liberal Party

The complaint requested that votes tabulated by certain models of voting machines be invalidated due to alleged logging errors. 

“All ballot boxes of manufacturing models UE2009, UE2010, UE2011, UE2013 and UE2015 pointed to an identical LOG number, when in fact they should show an individualized identification number,” read the complaint.

Shortly after the Liberal Party event, the President of the National Congress of Brazil, Senator Rodrigo Pacheco, spoke to the press about the matter.

He said that Lula da Silva’s victory in the presidential elections is an “unquestionable fact.

Senator Randolfe Rodrigues used Twitter to remind followers that the Liberal Party’s complaint only mentions irregularities in the second round of elections, and that the same electronic ballot boxes were also used in the first round, where the Liberal Party itself managed to elect more than 90 deputies to the Chamber of Deputies. 

These ballot box models make up nearly 280,000 pieces of equipment, almost all of those used in Brazil’s elections. According to the complaint, only the UE2020 ballot boxes worked properly.

The Liberal Party also outlined their argument for Bolsonaro winning the run-off election on October 30, although no evidence has apparently been presented to the electoral courts. According to Reuters, Judge Alexandre de Moraes, who heads the TSE, ruled that the complainant “must present its full audit for both rounds of last month’s vote within 24 hours, or he would reject it.”

The complaint alleges that with all other voting machine models invalidated, the UE2020 should be the only model machine producing legitimate results. According to the complainant’s own calculations, Bolsonaro won 51.05% of the votes tabulated on this model machine, making him the winner of the election. 

“The objectively presented result attests, in this spectrum of electoral certainty that imposes the election, 26,189,721 votes for President Jair Messias Bolsonaro and 25,111,550 votes for candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, resulting in 51.05% of the valid votes for Bolsonaro, and 48.95% for Lula,” read the complaint.

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