Brazil’s Bolsonaro challenges losing the election, and claims indications of “serious failures” in voting machines

Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro launched a challenge against the results of his country’s recent elections, which determined his loss to his socialist rival, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

On November 2, Bolsonaro acknowledged that “the elections are over” in a move that seemed to many to indicate his intention to begin the transition of power to Lula after the results were certified by the country’s supreme electoral court. However, he changed his tune on Wednesday over concerns about some voting machines, blaming a software bug.

Like former President Trump, who openly admires Bolsonaro, he has claimed electronic voting machines are vulnerable to fraud.

After the results were reviewed by his coalition, Bolsonaro said his party had found “signs of irreparable malfunctions” in some machines. No evidence was presented, even when ordered to do so by the Electoral Tribunal.

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His allies claimed to have found “signs of serious failures that generate uncertainty and make it impossible to validate the results generated” in older models of voting machines. They have not yet provided any evidence for these claims.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks from his official residence at the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, November 1, 2022, marking the leader’s first public comment since losing a presidential runoff on October 30.
(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Lula won the election with 50.9% of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 49.1%, and the claim will affect some 280,000 voting machines, according to the BBC. The result would swing to 51.05% for Bolsonaro and 48.95% for Lula if the affected votes are invalidated.

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The Supreme Electoral Court has told Bolsonaro’s coalition that they have 24 hours to submit scrutiny in both rounds of voting, or else the body will reject the party’s claims.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is running for re-election, smiles before the presidential debate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, October 28, 2022. Da Silva will face Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in the presidential run-off on October 30.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is running for re-election, smiles before the presidential debate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, October 28, 2022. Da Silva will face Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in the presidential run-off on October 30.
(Photo by AP/Bruna Prado)

Lula’s party chief, Glysi Hoffman, called Bolsonaro’s complaint a “bluff”.

“No more procrastination, irresponsibility and insult to institutions and democracy,” she wrote on Twitter. “The elections are decided by the vote and Brazil needs peace to build a better future.”

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Brazil’s Social Democratic Party called Bolsonaro’s complaint “nonsensical”, saying that “institutions, the international community and Brazilian society” would resist efforts to challenge the findings.

Demonstrators gather during a protest against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, calling for him to stand trial over his government's handling of the pandemic and accusations of corruption in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, October 2, 2021.

Demonstrators gather during a protest against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, calling for him to stand trial over his government’s handling of the pandemic and accusations of corruption in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, October 2, 2021.
(AP Photo/Andre Penner)

The Associated Press reports that the bug in question was not previously known. One expert, Wilson Ruggiero, professor of computer engineering and digital systems at the Polytechnic College of the University of São Paulo, told the agency that each voting machine can still be easily identified through other means, such as the city and voting district.

President Biden and other international leaders have publicly acknowledged da Silva’s victory, as have some of Bolsonaro’s closest allies.

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In addition to the worldwide recognition of Foz Lula’s cabinet members, elected conservatives and evangelical leaders who have been staunch supporters of Bolsonaro have already made overtures to the incoming leftist government.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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