Bolsonaro Denies Brazil Election, Blames ‘Software Malfunction’

Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party leader, Valdemar Costa Neto, spreads the President’s election denying rhetoric at a press conference.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro—noted mass murderer, according to his own country’s Senate—filed a complaint on Tuesday contesting the results of the run-off election he lost more than three weeks ago. In it, Bolsonaro’s lawyer Marcelo de Bessa claims that a “software bug” on 59% of the voting machines used across Brazil invalidates many ballots, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The 33-page complaint describes the alleged voting machine issue as an “irreparable non-compliance due to malfunction,” affecting all machines more than two years old, said the AP. And the filing demands that ballots cast on the ~280,000 machines in question be voided. Specifically, an auditor hired by Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party said the voting machines lacked individual identification numbers, without explaining how that could’ve possibly impacted election results, according to a report from Politico.

“It does not undermine the reliability or credibility in any way,” Wilson Ruggiero, a computer engineer at the Polytechnic School of the University of Sao Paulo, told the AP.

Another expert, Diego Aranha, a systems security researcher at Aarhus University in Denmark who has previously been part of security tests of Brazil’s election system, also told the AP something similar. Arhana explained that, though the machine ID numbers didn’t show up in internal digital logs, they did appear on printed receipts tallying the votes cast for each candidate.

Bolsonaro’s loss (and Lula’s victory) has already been declared by Brazil’s electoral authority, and the results have been widely accepted by politicians across the country—even many of Bolsonaro’s allies.

In response to Bolsonaro’s new claims, the leader of Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court said it would not reassess the election results unless the Liberal Party files a new complaint inclusive of the congressional elections it won earlier in October, Politico reported.

The concept of faulty and vulnerable voting machines have been a constant refrain in Bolsnaro’s attempts to undermine Brazil’s democracy for years. However, there has never been any evidence of fraud or ill-doing via the machines that have been used since 1996—despite regular audits, according to another AP report.

Though the complaint is unlikely to have a direct impact on government actions or sway election officials, according to multiple outlets, it is likely to fuel ongoing protests by Bolsonaro supporters. Emboldened by Bolsonaro’s earlier refusal to officially concede, tens of thousands of Brazilians have taken to the streets, refusing to accept the President’s loss. Sure sounds like he’s taking a page out of former President Donald Trump’s election-denying playbook.

Correction 11/23/2022, 5:07 p.m. ET: A previous version of this post mistakenly identified the photo of Valdemar Costa Neto as one of Bolsonaro.

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