A Brazilian court rejects the election challenge of outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro

São Paulo, Brazil

The head of Brazil’s electoral court on Wednesday rejected Jair Bolsonaro’s petition to have ballots nullified from this year’s presidential vote, calling the outgoing president’s claim that some voting machines had malfunctioned “ridiculous and illegal” and “ostensibly conspiratorial toward the democratic rule of law.”

In his ruling, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Elections Alexandre de Moraes said all electronic ballot forms are “fully recognizable in a clear, secure and integrated manner”. He also ordered Bolsonaro’s right-wing liberal party to pay a fine of 22 million reais ($4.1 million) for “bad faith litigation”.

Bolsonaro narrowly lost in a runoff last month to leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, better known as “Lula,” who is set to be installed as president on Jan. 1.

Since then, Bolsonaro has stopped openly acknowledging his loss, but has previously said he will “continue to carry out all the commandments of the constitution” – leading observers to believe he will cooperate with the transfer of power.

But in the petition filed on Tuesday, Bolsonaro and the leader of his Liberal Party claimed that some voting machines had malfunctioned and that any votes cast through them should be invalidated.

Citing analysis by a company hired by Bolsonaro’s party, the complaint alleged that removing those votes would give Bolsonaro a victory.

Elections authorities said earlier that the same voting machines were used in the first round of the election and in the run-off.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Liberal Party congressman Valdemar Costa Neto claimed that Bolsonaro’s party had only asked for a “second-round verification as we understand it would be impossible to do so in the first due to the number of people.” [candidates] affected.”

Last month’s heated election came amid a tense and polarized political climate in Brazil, which is grappling with soaring inflation, limited growth and rising poverty.

Lula da Silva polled more than 60 million votes – according to the final tally of the electoral authority – the most in Brazilian history and breaking his own record since 2006.

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