Brazil’s far-right former president takes a page from Trump’s book to contest recent election loss

Brazil’s far-right former president takes a page from Trump’s book to contest recent election loss
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in 2020, Wikimedia Commons

Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has challenged his recent election loss, claiming that the votes of malfunctioning voting machines should be thrown out.

Although Bolsonaro lost to Workers’ Party candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the country’s October 30 runoff election by over 2.1 million votes — a victory that has already been validated by Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court — Bolsonaro’s party has filed a 33-page petition with Brazil’s election authorities claiming that a computer bug necessitates that a large number of votes be thrown out.

Valdemar Costa, an auditor hired by Bolsonaro’s Liberal political party, told reporters that all voting machines manufactured before 2020 — nearly 280,000 of them, or about 59 percent of the total used in the election — lacked individual identification numbers in internal logs, Politico reported.

In a court filing, Bolsonaro’s party claimed that the machines suffered from an “irreparable non-compliance due to malfunction” which resulted in individual identification numbers tied to the machines being left off of internal logs. As such, all votes on these machines should be thrown out, the filing argues. If this occurs, it would leave Bolsonaro with 51 percent of the remaining valid votes, conveniently granting him as the winner.

“We always distrusted these machines. … We want a massive audit,” Bolsonaro’s said at a recent Mexico City conference. “There is very strong evidence to order an investigation of Brazil’s election.”

However, independent experts have said that the alleged bug didn’t affect the reliability of the election’s results. They also say that the missing identification numbers do actually appear on printed receipts showing the sum of all votes cast for each candidate.

“Each voting machine can still be easily identified through other means, like its city and voting district, according to Wilson Ruggiero, a professor of computer engineering and digital systems at the Polytechnic School of the University of Sao Paulo,” Politico reported.

While Bolsonaro was widely expected to contest the results, he was largely quiet after his loss. When his supporters began protesting his loss by blocking key highway routes to disrupt supply chains, Bolsonaro made a two-minute speech asking them to stop. However, he didn’t concede to his opponent during the speech.

“His chief of staff said at the time that the government would transition power, suggesting Bolsonaro would leave without issue,” Business Insider reported. World leaders have largely recognized da Silva as the winner. It remains to be seen how far Bolsonaro will go to remain in power.

Bolsonaro’s challenge is hardly surprising considering his public embrace of former President Donald Trump. Trump backed him in September 2022, calling him a “Tropical Trump.” The two are also transphobic and have embraced a nativist populism that targets the press as a public enemy.

After the 2020 election, Trump’s legal surrogates claimed that electronic voting machines allowed hackers to “steal” the election by fraudulently submitting votes to help his political opponent, now-President Joe Biden. No evidence has surfaced to validate this claim.

In fact, the surrogates who publicly made this claim and the media outlets that platformed their lies are now being sued for billions for defamation by the voting machine manufacturers they accused.

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