More than three weeks after losing a reelection bid, President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday blamed a software bug and demanded the electoral authority annul votes cast on most of Brazil’s nation’s electronic voting machines, though independent experts say the bug doesn’t affect the reliability of results.

Such an action would leave Bolsonaro with 51% of the remaining valid votes — and a reelection victory, Marcelo de Bessa, the lawyer who filed the 33-page request on behalf of the president and his Liberal Party, told reporters.

The electoral authority has already declared victory for Bolsonaro’s nemesis, leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and even many of the president’s allies have accepted the results. Protesters in cities across the country have steadfastly refused to do the same, particularly with Bolsonaro declining to concede.

Liberal Party leader Valdemar Costa and an auditor hired by the party told reporters in Brasilia that their evaluation found all machines dating from before 2020 — nearly 280,000 of them, or about 59% of the total used in the Oct. 30 runoff — lacked individual identification numbers in internal logs.

Neither explained how that might have affected election results, but said they were asking the electoral authority to invalidate all votes cast on those machines.

The complaint characterized the bug as “irreparable non-compliance due to malfunction” that called into question the authenticity of the results.

Immediately afterward, the head of the electoral authority issued a ruling that implicitly raised the possibility that Bolsonaro’s own party could suffer from such a challenge.

Alexandre de Moraes said the court would not consider the complaint unless the party offers an amended report within 24 hours that would include results from the first electoral round on Oct. 2, in which the Liberal Party won more seats in both congressional houses than any other.

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The bug hadn’t been known previously, yet experts said it also doesn’t affect results. Each voting machine can still be easily identified through other means, like its city and voting district, according to Wilson Ruggiero, a professor of computer engineering and digital systems at the Polytechnic School of the University of Sao Paulo.

Diego Aranha, an associate professor of systems security at Aarhus University in Denmark, who has participated in official security tests of Brazil’s electoral system, agreed.

“It does not undermine the reliability or credibility in any way,” Ruggiero told The Associated Press by phone. “The key point that guarantees correctness is the digital signature associated with each voting machine.”

While the machines don’t have individual identification numbers in their internal logs, those numbers do appear on printed receipts that show the sum of all votes cast for each candidate, said Aranha, adding the bug was only detected due to the efforts by the electoral authority to provide greater transparency.

Bolsonaro’s less than two-point loss to da Silva on Oct. 30 was the narrowest margin since Brazil’s 1985 return to democracy. While the president hasn’t explicitly cried foul, he has refused to concede defeat or congratulate his opponent — leaving room for …read more

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