By Eduardo Davis
Brasilia, Nov 22 (EFE).- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s party on Tuesday filed a request demanding that election officials invalidate the results from most of the electronic voting machines used in last month’s balloting, in which the controversial conservative was narrowly defeated by leftist challenger Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The request submitted by his Liberal Party (PL) casts doubt on around 60 percent of the electronic voting machines used in the Oct. 30 runoff, a process that all participating national and international observers have certified as transparent.
In an ambiguous statement, PL Chairman Valdemar Costa Neto said the report on which the request is based “does not represent the opinion of the party” yet still should be analyzed with the aim of “strengthening democracy.”
The president of the Superior Electoral Court, Alexandre de Moraes, however, noted that the electronic voting machines the PL claims are unreliable were used in both rounds.
He therefore said the PL’s request can only be evaluated if a second request is issued within 24 hours that also contains concerns about the Oct. 2 first round, in which Bolsonaro’s party won more seats in both the Senate and lower house that any other single political grouping.
Bolsonaro, who had repeatedly cast doubt on the reliability of the voting machines in the lead-up to the election, has not been seen in public and has virtually disappeared from social media since the runoff.
But despite not publicly accepting his defeat, he has reportedly authorized his team to begin the transition process.
In its request, the PL said a private company it hired conducted an audit that found that around 61 percent of the 577,125 electronic voting machines used in the second round – those manufactured between 2009 and 2015 – “cannot be audited.”
It also said that when only tallying up the vote count from the more modern machines Bolsonaro won 51.05 percent of the ballots in the runoff.
Brazil’s electoral authority has certified that Lula, a former president who from 2003 to 2010 presided over an economic boom and implemented policies that lifted millions out of poverty, won a third term in office by a slim margin of 50.9 percent to Bolsonaro’s 49.1 percent.
Carlos Rocha, the engineer responsible for the PL’s report on the runoff, said there are “very strong indications” that the older machines malfunctioned and said an “extraordinary verification” process is needed given the magnitude of the election.
The chairman of Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) and one of the leaders of the president-elect’s transition team, Gleisi Hoffman, slammed the PL’s request and called it a “ruse” that has no chance of succeeding in court.
“Enough with the malice, the irresponsibility and insults to institutions and democracy,” she wrote on Twitter. “The election was decided through voting and Brazil needs peace to build a better future.” EFE