Facing the prospect of a crushing defeat at the polls next year, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil is rousing supporters for an existential battle — against voting machines.
Beleaguered by the devastating toll of the coronavirus, a sputtering economy and a surging rival, the president has launched a full-throated attack on the electronic voting system Brazil has relied on for 25 years. Unless voters get to record their choice on paper ballots, which the current system doesn’t allow, Mr. Bolsonaro has warned that the 2022 election could be suspended.
“An election outside those parameters is not an election,” Mr. Bolsonaro told supporters during a recent rally in the southern state of Florianópolis, calling on his base to prepare to “fight with all the weapons.”
The prospect of a destabilizing showdown next year loomed on Tuesday as Mr. Bolsonaro’s government organized a military parade in which armored tanks rumbled past Congress just hours before legislators were scheduled to debate a bill that would require electronic voting machines to print paper ballots.
The lower house of Congress voted late Tuesday to reject the proposal.
And from later in the piece:
Mr. Bolsonaro began railing against the voting system several years ago, when he was a fringe, ultraconservative member of Congress with little power or visibility in the capital.
In 2015, he proposed a constitutional amendment requiring that electronic machines print a record of each vote, which would be deposited in a ballot box. Mr. Bolsonaro argued at the time that the redundancy would reduce the “chance of fraud to zero.”
Congress approved the measure, but the Supreme Court said it violated privacy and ruled it unconstitutional, which meant the voting system remained unchanged.