Brazilian court rejects election challenge from outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Brazil’s electoral court chief on Wednesday rejected Jair Bolsonaro’s petition to cancel ballots in this year’s presidential election, calling the outgoing president’s claim that some voting machines malfunctioned “ridiculous and illicit” and “apparently conspiratorial to the of the democratic rule of law”.

In his ruling, Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandre De Moraes said all electronic ballot models were “perfectly identifiable in a clear, secure and integral manner”. He also ordered Bolsonaro’s right-wing Liberal Party to pay a fine of 22 million reais ($4.1 million) for “lawsuits in bad faith”.

Bolsonaro narrowly lost a runoff election last month to leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, popularly known as “Lula”, who will be inaugurated as president on January 1.

Since then, Bolsonaro has not explicitly admitted losing, but rather said he would “continue to fulfill all the commandments of the constitution” – leading observers to believe he would cooperate with the transfer of power.

But in the petition filed Tuesday, Bolsonaro and the leader of his Liberal party claimed that some voting machines were malfunctioning and that all votes cast through these machines should be nullified.

Citing an analysis by a company hired by Bolsonaro’s party, the complaint claimed that removing those votes would give Bolsonaro the win.

Election authorities have previously said that the same voting machines were used in the first round of elections and the second round.

In a press conference Wednesday, Liberal party congressman Valdemar Costa Neto claimed that Bolsonaro’s party only asked for “second round verification, as we understand that it would be impossible to do this in the first round due to the number of people . [candidates] affected.”

Last month’s heated elections took place amid a tense and polarized political environment in Brazil, which is battling high inflation, limited growth and rising poverty.

Lula da Silva received more than 60 million votes – according to the Electoral Authority’s final tally – the most in Brazilian history, breaking his own record set in 2006.

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