The incumbent leader questioned the reliability of electronic voting machines
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's lawyers have urged the country's electoral authority to invalidate all votes cast on more than half of the electronic voting machines used in the race that he narrowly lost to former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
In a complaint filed on Tuesday, Bolsonaro's Liberal Party questioned the results of the October 30 runoff election over what they called an "irreparable non-compliance due to malfunction," claiming that nearly 280,000 voting machines of an older model were missing identification numbers in internal logs.
Former President da Silva - a leftist politician known to many Brazilians simply as 'Lula' - was officially declared the winner by a thin margin of 50.9% against the incumbent's 49.1%. However, if all the votes in question were annulled, Bolsonaro would win reelection with 51% of the remaining valid votes, according to Marcelo de Bessa, the lawyer who filed the motion.
The Superior Electoral Court noted that the same voting machines were used in the first round of the election in which Bolsonaro's party beat all competitors in both congressional houses. The court set a 24-hour deadline for Bolsonaro's allies to present a full audit of both rounds of the vote.
In the runup to the election, Bolsonaro had repeatedly claimed that Brazil's electronic voting system is open to fraud, and accused the election authorities of favoring Lula. His criticism appears to echo statements made by former US President Donald Trump - a leader he has had warm relations with - who has repeatedly claimed that the 2020 US election was stolen from him. Both Trump and Bolsonaro have failed to provide evidence to support their allegations.
Bolsonaro's refusal to formally concede defeat triggered chaotic protests across Brazil earlier this month. At one point, demonstrators demanded a military takeover of the government and an inquiry into the nation's electronic voting system.
Bolsonaro asked his supporters not to block federal highways, arguing that would only undermine the legitimacy of their movement. He urged them instead to gather in squares and other proper venues for rallies, saying such protests are "very welcome" and "part of our democracy."