RIO DE JANEIRO – For more than a year, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been warning that he may not accept losing in last month’s presidential election. Then he lost. In response, he reluctantly agreed to begin the transfer of power – while his allies scrutinized the election results for evidence of anything amiss.
This week, his campaign claimed to have found it: a small software bug in the voting machines. On Tuesday, the campaign filed a motion to effectively overturn the election in Bolsonaro’s favour, saying the error should eliminate votes from about 60 percent of voting machines.
Of the remaining votes, Mr Bolsonaro would win with 51 percent, the campaign said, making him the victor instead of the former leftist president he defeated, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The request was peace be upon you Mary. Independent experts said the error had no impact on the integrity of the vote. Then, late Wednesday, Brazil’s election chief dismissed the complaint and fined the three conservative parties behind it more than $4.3 million for filing.
Alexandre de Moraes, the Supreme Court judge who runs Brazil’s electoral agency and who has become one of Bolsonaro’s most prominent political opponents, said in a decision issued late Wednesday that the campaign’s arguments were “totally wrong” and that the request to annul the election was “ostensibly an attack on the democratic rule of law and carried out recklessly, with the aim of Encouraging criminal and anti-democratic movements.
Mr. Moraes had previously given the campaign 24 hours to explain why he was only questioning votes from the second round of the election, in which Mr. Bolsonaro lost, and not the first round, in which his political party won the most seats in Congress using the same voting machines. After Bolsonaro’s party chief said on Wednesday he lacked information about the first round, Mr Moraes dismissed the complaint.
Mr. Moraes, the election chief, has become one of Brazil’s most powerful political figures in the face of criticism of the election system from Mr. Bolsonaro and his allies. Mr. Moraes’ aggressive response to what he called attacks against democracy in Brazil, including his order for social media networks to delete thousands of posts, has drawn widespread criticism from the Brazilian right.
On short notice on Wednesday afternoon, hours before Mr. Moraes’ decision, Bolsonaro’s right-wing liberal party invited reporters to a hotel in Brasilia, the country’s capital, to explain his findings.
Waldemar Costa Neto, the party’s president, said the software flaw required a review of the election results. “There is no doubt about the vote,” he said. “If this is a stain on our democracy, we must solve it now.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Moraes also ordered an investigation into Mr. Costa Neto and the official who oversaw the party audit.
The bug highlighted by Mr Bolsonaro’s campaign caused an error in a single document produced by some older voting machines. The error affects the identification number connected to the voting machine. Liberal Party officials argued that this made it difficult to verify votes.
Independent computer security experts who have studied voting machines in Brazil and reviewed campaign results said this was a mistake. They said that although the error was present, it did not affect the integrity of the results. This is because there are a variety of other ways to identify voting machines, including faulty documents.
They have indicated a bug that needs to be corrected. “It’s great, and it’s actually easy to debug,” said Marcos Simplicio, a cybersecurity researcher at the University of São Paulo. But he said the campaign’s proposal to cancel votes was like arguing over a car over a scratch on the door.
He said, “Try to get your insurance company to do that.” “Nonsense. Complete nonsense.”