Judge Fines Bolsonaro Allies Millions After ‘Bad Faith’ Election Challenge

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Judge Fines Bolsonaro Allies Millions After ‘Bad Faith’ Election Challenge – The head of Brazil’s electoral court has rejected an appeal by Jair Bolsonaro’s party to overturn the results of the runoff election he lost in October. A supreme court justice, Alexandre de Moraes, fined the parties in Bolsonaro’s coalition $22.9 million reais ($4.3 million) for what the court termed bad faith litigation.

Last month’s Brazilian presidential election, which Bolsonaro lost to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was challenged by Bolsonaro on the grounds that votes from some voting machines should be invalidated. His coalition’s audit of the second-round runoff between Bolsonaro and Lula on October 30 uncovered “signs of irreparable malfunction” in some electronic voting machines, according to its findings. De Moraes had previously ruled that Bolsonaro’s party could suffer if it pursued such a challenge, and he demanded additional information from the party, which it refused to provide.

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De Moraes then wrote in his final decision, “The complete bad faith of the plaintiff’s bizarre and illicit request was proven, both by the refusal to add to the initial petition and the total absence of any evidence of irregularities and the existence of a totally fraudulent narrative of the facts.”  On Tuesday, party attorneys filed a 33-page petition arguing that all votes recorded by the majority of Brazil’s voting machines should be voided due to a software flaw. The machines lack individual identification numbers in their internal logs.

Neither Costa nor de Bessa explained how the bug may have impacted election outcomes. Independent experts consulted by the Associated Press stated that while the flaw was newly discovered, it did not affect the voting machines’ reliability, as they could still be identified by other means. In his Thursday ruling, de Moraes made the same observation. In addition, he wrote that the challenge to the election appeared intended to incite anti-democratic protest movements and sow discord, and he demanded an investigation of the president of Bolsonaro’s party, Valdermar Costa.

Professor of political science at Rio de Janeiro State University, Maurcio Santoro, stated: “De Moraes’ message to the political establishment is: the game is over. Questioning the result of the elections is not fair play, and people and institutions who do that will be punished harshly.” On Wednesday, Costa said his intention was merely to prevent the results of the 2022 vote from haunting Brazil into the future. Lula’s victory has been ratified by the superior electoral court and acknowledged by Brazil’s leading politicians and international allies.

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Bolsonaro himself has authorized his government to begin transition preparations in the days following the runoff election in October. Earlier, the president of Lula’s Workers party, Gleisi Hoffmann, referred to Bolsonaro’s election complaint as “chicanery.” “No more procrastination, irresponsibility, insults to institutions and democracy,” she wrote on Twitter. “The election was decided in the vote and Brazil needs peace to build a better future.” Brazil began using electronic voting in 1996. Its system has been closely scrutinised by domestic and international experts who have never found evidence of it being exploited to commit fraud.

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