Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said his party will seek an audit of the country’s electronic voting system ahead of the upcoming elections in October.
The move comes as the far-right leader has for months questioned the validity of the country’s voting systems, a campaign that has coincided with his plunging approval ratings and directly contradicts election officials and experts.
Analysts have warned the focus on potential fraud, for which Bolsonaro has not provided any evidence, may be laying the groundwork to challenge the election results much like former United States President Donald Trump did in 2020.
In early election polls, Bolsonaro is currently trailing behind former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
“As allowed by electoral law, we will hire a company to do the audit,” Bolsonaro said during a live broadcast on his social media channels on Thursday. “People want transparent elections in which the vote is effectively counted for their candidate.”
Bolsonaro also said in his broadcast that the armed forces, with whom he remains closely aligned, have given nine suggestions to Brazil’s electoral court to improve the voting systems but have not received any response.
“The head of the electoral court should thank them, take the necessary measures, discuss with the team of the armed forces so the elections are held without any suspicion,” he said, adding the armed forces “will not perform the role of just rubber stamping the electoral process, or take part as spectators”.
‘Confidence’ in electoral system
During the broadcast, a Bolsonaro adviser, retired Army General Augusto Heleno, also denied a report that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had urged top Brazilian officials to stop Bolsonaro from undermining confidence in the voting system.
At a news conference on Thursday, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price declined to comment on anything CIA Director Bill Burns may have said to Bolsonaro or others.
However, he said “it’s important that Brazilians, as they look forward to their elections later this year, have confidence in their electoral systems and that Brazil once again is in a position to demonstrate to the world through these elections the enduring strength of Brazil’s democracy”.
The left-wing Lula, who had high approval ratings during his presidency from 2003 to 2010 but was jailed in a controversial corruption case after leaving office, is set to formally announce his candidacy on Saturday.