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(Sao Paulo) – Brazil’s Armed Forces should not set up a parallel system for counting votes in the upcoming presidential election as President Jair Bolsonaro wants. Bolsonaro has questioned the vote-counting system at the Superior Electoral Tribunal without providing any evidence of wrongdoing, and attacked the tribunal’s former president, Supreme Court justice Luis Roberto Barroso.

On April 27, 2022, President Bolsonaro, who highlighted he was the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, suggested that the Armed Forces set up a parallel system for alternative vote counting. “We also have a computer at the Armed Forces for counting votes,” said Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has filled the federal government with more than 6,000 active-duty and retired members of the armed forces, including key positions in his cabinet.

“President Bolsonaro continues with his reckless and dangerous misinformation campaign against Brazil’s electoral system by repeating baseless claims of electoral fraud and attacking independent electoral and judicial authorities,” said Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch. “By seeding baseless doubts on the electoral system and proposing an alternative counting system under his control, President Bolsonaro seems to be laying the groundwork to either contest the will of the people if he is not reelected or even try to cancel the vote.”

Running a parallel electoral system is neither the mission nor the expertise of the Armed Forces, Human Rights Watch said. In a democracy, the electoral system should be run and votes should be counted by independent civilian authorities, and not by the Armed Forces, which President Bolsonaro himself emphasized is under his command.

“The international community should send a strong message to President Bolsonaro that any attempt to subvert the democratic system and the rule of law is unacceptable,” Canineu said.

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