Bolsonaro garners new audience for old statement: Brazilian elections could be rigged

BRAZIL. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro summoned dozens of foreign diplomats to the presidential palace on Monday to tell them that he believes the country’s voting systems could be rigged, a potential preview of his strategy for elections due in 75 days predicted by polls. he will lose in a landslide.

While Mr. Bolsonaro’s presentation was not new—he’d been repeating these claims for years—so was his audience. He invited officials from most of the embassies in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, raising his concerns from domestic politics to foreign policy.

He promised to share evidence of fraud in the last two presidential elections, but most of his 47-minute presentation, which he broadcast to the publicfocused on paraphrasing information about the 2018 Brazilian electoral agency hack, as well as his accusations that some Supreme Court judges tried to sabotage his re-election bid.

“I know that you all want democratic stability in our country,” he said. Bolsonaro said from behind the pulpit to dozens of seated diplomats. “And this will only be achieved with transparent and credible elections.”

Many of the diplomats who attended the event were shocked by the presentation, including Mr Bolsonaro’s suggestion that secure elections can be secured through deeper involvement of the Brazilian Armed Forces, according to two diplomats at the event, who spoke on condition of anonymity, to discuss private conservation. These diplomats feared that Mr. Bolsonaro was laying the groundwork for an attempt to challenge the results of the vote if he lost.

Less than three months before the presidential election, M. Bolsonaro seems to be sticking to former President Donald Trump’s plan. Like Mr. Trump on the eve of the 2020 US election. Bolsonaro is trailing in the polls. And how Mr. Trump, Mr. Bolsonaro appears to have discredited the vote before it happened in an alleged attempt to increase credibility and transparency.

But Mr. Bolsonaro has publicly questioned the integrity of Brazil’s voting systems for years, even suggesting there were fraud in the 2018 elections that led him to the presidency. (He claimed, without clear evidence, that he would have won by a wide margin had it not been for cheating.)

He mostly cited circumstantial evidence, such as videos showing voting machines malfunctioning. Many of these videos have been debunked fact checking agencies as well as electoral bodies.

On Monday, Mr. Bolsonaro faced another hack in 2018, when hackers gained access to the internal systems of the Brazilian electoral authorities for several months. mr. Bolsonaro said the hack called into question the national voting system, but electoral officials dismissed his concerns.

He also claimed that the Brazilian Federal Police “said during an investigation that the hackers could have changed the names of candidates, taken a vote from one candidate and sent it to another.” But Brazil’s electoral agency said it was a lie.

The agency said that hackers who gained access to the agency’s systems during the October 2018 elections could change candidate and party information in one municipal election this year, but they did not change votes or tamper with electronic voting machines. that are not connected to the internet. The investigation also showed that hackers gained access to the source code of machines and personal data of voters. But the agency said the hackers could not access the voting machines or change the voting results.

The agency, which is run by the same Supreme Court judges as Mr. Bolsonaro’s claims are politically biased against him — a 20-point fact check about Mr. Bolsonaro was released on Monday. Bolsonaro and sent it to diplomats after his speech.

The lead federal police investigator in the hacking case also testified in the Supreme Court that the investigation found no evidence of fraud during the 2018 election.

Diego Arana, Brazilian computer scientist, carefully studied the voting system in Brazilsaid that while the 2018 hack showed that the security of the country’s elections could be improved, it did not threaten the integrity of the elections because the hackers were unable to change votes or break into voting machines.

Several embassies in Brasilia, including the US embassy, ​​declined to comment or did not respond to messages late on Monday. This was stated by the Swiss Ambassador to Brazil, Pietro Ladzeri. Twitter“We wish the Brazilian people that the next elections will be another celebration of democracy and institutions.”

US and European officials have said they have faith in Brazil’s electoral system. President Biden stressed the importance of respecting democratic institutions in his meeting with Mr. Biden. Bolsonaro in June

At the end of Mr. Bolsonaro’s remarks on Monday, there was a brief silence as he stood in front of the audience. Some of the assembled members of the presidential cabinet quickly burst into applause. Many of the various diplomats then also applauded politely.