Voting change sought by Brazil’s Bolsonaro defeated in Congress

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro wears a face mask during a press conference on the coronavirus pandemic at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia

A Brazilian congressional committee on Thursday voted against a constitutional amendment to adopt printed ballots, in a major defeat for still very popular President Jair Bolsonaro.

The 34-member committee voted 23 to 11 to shelve the amendment that Bolsonaro had advocated for weeks, claiming the country’s electronic voting system is open to fraud.

Critics say Bolsonaro, like former U.S. President Donald Trump, is sowing doubts in case he loses next year’s presidential election. He has threatened not to accept the result if the system is not changed.

The amendment called for adoption of printed receipts that can be counted if any election result is disputed, a paper trail that would change the current all-electronic voting system.

Bolsonaro, who is expected to seek a second term, has spent hours on social media attacking the electronic voting system, without providing evidence of fraud.

With his popularity falling after overseeing the world’s second-deadliest coronavirus outbreak, opinion polls show he trails former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, although neither of them has officially announced they will run.

“Bolsonaro has threatened the elections because he has already lost. He wants to perpetuate himself in power. He needs to be contained,” Congressman Ivan Valente of Socialism and Liberty Party told the commission.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro raged against a Supreme Court investigation into his conduct and threatened to respond outside the limits of the constitution, escalating a clash between the president and the judiciary.

Bolsonaro’s comments came after Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes approved an investigation into the president’s unfounded accusations that Brazil’s electronic voting system is vulnerable to fraud.

The president has called for people to take to the streets to defend his proposal and accused members of the top court of wanting to help Lula’s Workers Party return to power.

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