RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A long-awaited report from Brazil’s military highlighted flaws in the country’s electoral systems and proposed improvements, but it failed to substantiate allegations of fraud by some supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro , who continue to protest his Oct. 30 defeat.
Many political analysts said Wednesday’s report should put an end to any serious attempt to discredit the electoral process.
“It was a bucket of cold water for those who still dreamed that the report could worsen the crisis,” said Carlos Melo, professor of political science at Insper University in Sao Paulo. “How can the protesters talk about fraud if their own agent, who they consider a higher authority, says there is no evidence?”
Bolsonaro, whose less than two-point loss to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was the narrowest margin since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985, hasn’t specifically cried foul since the election.
Yet his persistent refusal to concede defeat or congratulate his opponent left ample room for fans to draw their own conclusions. This follows more than a year of Bolsonaro repeatedly claiming that Brazil’s electronic voting system is prone to fraud, without ever presenting any evidence.
And analysts noted that the armed forces, which have been a key part of Bolsonaro’s administration, appeared cautious not to displease the president as they harbored a semblance of uncertainty.
In a second statement on Thursday, the Defense Ministry stressed that while it had found no evidence of vote counting fraud, it could not rule out the possibility.
It is the first time the military has spoken out on the run-off election, which has sparked pro-Bolsonaro protests across the country even as the transition began for da Silva’s January 1 inauguration. Thousands of people gathered outside military installations in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo. , Brasilia and other cities calling for the intervention of the armed forces to keep Bolsonaro in power.
Many protesters had anticipated that the Department of Defense report would bolster their campaign, but that did not happen.
“There’s nothing surprising about the document,” Diego Aranha, an associate professor of systems security at Aarhus University in Denmark, who served as a member of Public Security Testing, told The Associated Press. of the Brazilian electoral authority. “The limitations found are the same that analysts have complained about for decades…but this shows no evidence of impropriety.”
Among the technical issues outlined in the report, signed by the Minister of Defense and representatives of the army, navy and air force, is the use of the electoral authority’s internal network to process source codes machinery, which they claim increases the risk of external interference. The election authority says its network is secure.
The report said the biometric identification pilot program that the military had insisted on implementing was inconclusive, as only a few people participated.
Based on the possible risk, the report suggests creating a commission made up of members of civil society and auditing entities to further investigate the operation of electronic voting machines.
Nonetheless, the report says an analysis of vote tallies from 501 machines found no inconsistencies in any of them, with a confidence level of 95%. A separate integrity test was also “conducted as planned”, he added.
Brazil began using an electronic voting system in 1996. Election security experts consider these systems to be less secure than hand-marked paper ballots because they leave no verifiable paper trail. The Brazilian system is, however, closely monitored and national authorities and international observers have never found evidence that it is being exploited to commit fraud.
The electoral authority said in its statement on Wednesday that it would analyze the Defense Ministry’s suggestions.
Many Brazilians hope for a return to calm.
Da Silva’s first visit as president-elect to the capital on Wednesday and his meeting with Supreme Court justices – some of whom were once fierce political enemies – are a case in point, said Nara Pavão, a political scientist at the University. Federal of Pernambuco.
“It was amazing, this feeling of normalcy,” Pavão said. “It shows how well democracy works – he won, he is the elected president.”
Online, many pro-Bolsonaro protesters shared their disappointment. “So, did we rain for no reason? ” we asked.
But others have called for protests to continue, with messages circulating about pro-Bolsonaro groups calling for large rallies this weekend and Tuesday, a public holiday in Brazil.
Associated Press writer Carla Bridi reported from Brasilia. AP writer David Biller in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.
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