HomeNewsHow Brazil’s Chief Constructed the Fantasy of Rigged Elections

How Brazil’s Chief Constructed the Fantasy of Rigged Elections


By Jack Nicas, Flávia Milhorance and Ana Ionova

Produced by Grey Beltran

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For years, President Jair Bolsonaro has attacked Brazil’s election methods.

Considered one of his claims has been that obvious patterns in vote outcomes present proof of fraud.


That is actually robust proof

that one thing occurred,

that one thing was modified

within the transmission or inside.

Livestream on Jair Bolsonaro’s Fb web page, July 2021

He has repeatedly mentioned that election officers rely votes in secret, suggesting they may manipulate outcomes.


The votes which might be despatched to Brasília,

they go to a secret room!

My God. The rely must be public,

nevertheless it goes to a secret room.

Livestream on Jair Bolsonaro’s YouTube web page, April 2022

And he has mentioned that he suspects hackers tried to steal the presidential election from him in 2018, however failed.


The cope with these hackers can be to

divert 12 million votes from candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

To vanish with 12 million votes.

I repeat, I dont have proof,

and I don’t know whether it is true.

However that’s the story we’re investigating.

Livestream on Jair Bolsonaro’s YouTube web page, August 2021

These claims are false, in line with Brazil’s election officers, fact-checking companies and unbiased election-security consultants who’ve studied the nation’s digital voting system.

But in speeches, interviews and a whole lot of posts on social media, the president has persistently and methodically repeated these baseless claims and lots of others about Brazil’s voting system.

The consequence has been a yearslong marketing campaign that has undermined thousands and thousands of Brazilians’ religion within the elections that underpin one of many world’s largest democracies. In a ballot this month, three out of 4 of Mr. Bolsonaro’s supporters mentioned they’ve little or no belief in Brazil’s voting machines.

Now, Brazil is bracing for turmoil. Whereas Mr. Bolsonaro has warned of voter fraud for years, he has by no means misplaced an election in three a long time in politics. However within the contest for president on Sunday, he could also be going through defeat.

And he has urged that he wouldn’t settle for it.


For all of us, we have now three alternate options,

particularly for me:

arrest, demise or victory.

Inform these bastards

I’ll by no means be arrested.

O Tempo, September 2021

The New York Occasions combed by way of a whole lot of hours of Mr. Bolsonaro’s interviews, speeches and weekly livestreams and hundreds of his social-media posts to map his efforts over eight years to criticize or query the voting system.

The ensuing image confirmed an elected chief, first as a congressman after which as president, who has constructed a story of fraudulent elections based mostly on inaccuracies, out-of-context studies, circumstantial proof, conspiracy theories and downright falsehoods – very similar to former President Donald J. Trump.

His proof has centered on obvious abnormalities within the voting course of and outcomes, typically introduced with out attribution, and he has framed hypothetical eventualities of fraud as much more possible than they’re.

As Mr. Bolsonaro has gained energy and fame, his claims have been amplified by members of Brazil’s Congress, conservative pundits and his grownup sons, in addition to a broader community of misinformation peddlers, in line with The Occasions’ evaluation, which additionally relied on a database of livestreams compiled by the Brazilian journal Piauí.

Regardless of his claims, there was no proof of fraud within the digital voting machines since Brazil started utilizing them in 1996, in line with unbiased consultants, Brazil’s election officers and international governments, together with the USA.

As a substitute, the machines helped eradicate the voter fraud that after racked Brazil’s elections within the age of paper ballots.

However the system is exclusive. Brazil is the one nation on this planet to gather and rely votes totally digitally, with out paper backups.

Mr. Bolsonaro has seized upon that as a serious flaw: With out backups, he argues, one can by no means ensure that every particular person’s poll is counted appropriately.


With this method right here,

it’s unimaginable to make any type of connection

or correlation between the voter and their vote.

Congresso em Foco, July 2022

Election safety consultants say that a number of layers of safety stop fraud or errors.

  • Officers take a look at a whole lot of machines on Election Day to make sure they’re recording votes appropriately.
  • Every polling station posts vote counts publicly, making certain that they match up with the nationwide tally.
  • Outdoors consultants examine a few of the supply code of the machines’ software program.
  • Most voters use their fingerprints to unlock the machines, whereas others current photograph identification to ballot employees.
  • And the machines are usually not linked to the web, considerably lowering the possibilities of a hack.

Mr. Bolsonaro started criticizing the voting machines when he was nonetheless a congressman, simply after the 2014 presidential election. That yr’s center-right candidate for president had disputed the outcomes of a slender loss and demanded an audit. The audit confirmed no fraud.

To Mr. Bolsonaro, that was not sufficient.


Simply as I’ve no method of proving that there was fraud,

no person on the opposite facet can show that there wasn’t fraud.

Home of Representatives video, October 2015

Mr. Bolsonaro vowed to finish the all-electronic system. In 2015, he helped lead Congress to move a measure to require paper backups. However the Supreme Courtroom vetoed the change, saying it might violate residents’ proper to maintain their vote secret.

Mr. Bolsonaro claimed the choice confirmed that the political institution was defending a susceptible system to assist leftists rig the following election.

In that election, in 2018, Mr. Bolsonaro ran for president. On the time, he urged that the election’s outcomes couldn’t be trusted due to the voting machines.


Whoever wins, the opposite facet will increase suspicion

as a result of,

as a result of no nation on this planet has adopted this mannequin.

UOL, September 2018

Then he gained.

But Mr. Bolsonaro nonetheless claimed fraud. With out proof, he argued that the election had solely gone to a runoff as a result of the left had stolen votes.

If the outcomes have been clear, he mentioned, he would have gained within the first spherical.

As president, he continued to push baseless claims of fraud.

He typically depends on rumour, presenting unattributed studies of irregularities within the voting course of as proof of one thing amiss.


We’ve heard — it’s laborious to show,

for instance,

that individuals use glue on the voting-machine keys in additional humble areas.

The man goes there, places a bit of glue on No. 7,

and anybody who needs to vote for 17 cannot.

Livestream on Jair Bolsonaro’s Instagram web page, June 2021

In July 2021, whereas president, he introduced that he would present, as soon as and for all, proof that the system was rife with fraud. As a substitute, in a two-hour livestream on social media, he once more pointed to a sequence of obvious aberrations.

He confirmed a neighborhood newscast from 2008 that mentioned that some voters in a single rural space claimed their votes weren’t counted appropriately. (The federal police investigated and mentioned there was no fraud.)

He confirmed a video from a programmer who claimed to exhibit how voting machines have been hacked in 2018. (Specialists and fact-checkers mentioned the video was riddled with errors, together with a basic misunderstanding of how the voting system works.)

And he confirmed a montage of individuals complaining that the machines wouldn’t allow them to vote. (Election officers mentioned any malfunctioning machines are rapidly changed. In lots of circumstances, officers mentioned, the problem is a mistake by the voter.)

A few of his central proof was a spreadsheet of vote returns that he mentioned confirmed uncommon patterns. He claimed that the sequence of outcomes was nearly statistically unimaginable, suggesting an algorithm was controlling the returns.


That is roughly equal to you profitable the Mega Hundreds of thousands

six instances in a row.

Can it occur? Positive.

However the chances are high near zero.

Livestream on Jair Bolsonaro’s Fb web page, July 2021

Election officers and consultants mentioned he introduced inaccurate knowledge.

Mr. Bolsonaro later referred to as international ambassadors to the presidential palace for one more presentation that he promised would show fraud. As a substitute, he rehashed previous complaints.

This yr, he enlisted Brazil’s navy in his battle, saying it might guarantee voting was protected. The armed forces analyzed the system and proposed a sequence of minor adjustments. In response, election officers adjusted how they deliberate to check the machines on Election Day. The navy has since urged it’s snug with the system.

But, weeks earlier than the primary spherical of voting earlier this month, Mr. Bolsonaro continued to boost suspicions.


If I’ve lower than 60 % of the votes,

one thing irregular occurred within the election company.

SBT Information, September 2022

On Oct. 2, he acquired 43 % of the vote, trailing his challenger, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, by six million votes — much better than polls had predicted.

However days later, with out offering any proof, he urged there was fraud.


Even the outcomes graph that was made right here,

considering every vote proportion that was reported,

created a uniform determine, proper?

Fairly like an algorithm.

Livestream on Jair Bolsonaro’s YouTube web page, October 2022

Brazil’s navy, which monitored the voting throughout the first spherical, discovered no indicators of fraud, in line with a high navy official who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of he was not approved to talk publicly. Mr. Bolsonaro’s authorities has not launched the navy’s findings publicly.

Officers in Brazil and overseas at the moment are nervous that if Mr. Bolsonaro loses on Sunday, he’ll declare the vote was stolen and name on his supporters to take to the streets and demand he stay in energy.

At a rally this month, he informed supporters to collect at polling stations because the outcomes are introduced. As the gang chanted his nickname — “legend” — he informed them there was no method his opponent might feasibly win.


[Crowd chants “Legend.”]

On Oct. 30,

in inexperienced and yellow,

we are going to vote.

And greater than that,

we are going to stay on the polling stations

till the outcomes are decided.

I’m sure

the consequence would be the one we’re all ready for.

Livestream on Jair Bolsonaro’s Fb web page, October 2022


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