Scores of Brazilians took to the streets Sunday in support of President Jair Bolsonaro's drive towards the approval of a paper ballot voting system for next year's elections.
Demonstrators convened at most of the country's big cities to demand an auditable mechanism with printed votes in addition to the current electronic system.
The largest gatherings took place in the morning hours in Rio de Janeiro, where several blocks of the emblematic Avenida Atlántica on the iconic Copacabana beach, and on Esplanada dos Ministerios, in the administrative center of Brasilia, the capital, were crowded.
In Sao Paulo's Avenida Paulista, considered the financial heart of Brazil, another massive rally was held in the afternoon and Bolsonaro made a statement there through a giant screen.
I want to congratulate you for the initiative to go to the streets and fight for freedoms and for clean elections. It is only your right and an obligation of the State to provide for the public counting of votes, which are to be presented as auditable, Bolsonaro said live from Brasilia.
Bolsonaro insists that Congress needs to approve a constitutional amendment to implement ballots in addition to the electronic ballot box system which has been used since 1996.
The bill currently in the hands of Congress specifies that after casting their votes on a scree, citizens would be allowed to get a printed copy of their selection to be cast in a methacrylate ballot box, so that if fraud is suspected votes can be easily counted manually.
Nobody owns the truth and a clean and democratic election is with the vote printed on paper. It is the continuity of democracy and the will of the people has to prevail. We do not understand why they do not want transparency in the public count of the votes, said Bolsonaro.
With posters with messages such as Transparent election, Democratic election, Auditable vote now and carrying flags and shirts of Brazil's national football team, demonstrators jammed the streets of other cities such as the majority of protesters also held rallies in other cities in the State of Sao Paulo as well as in other States such as Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Río Grande do Sul, Paraiba, Piauí, Alagoas, Maranhao, Sergipe, Bahía, Río Grande do Norte, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, Amazonas, Roraima and Pará.
Bolsonaro insisted that without fair and democratic elections, there will be no election, he threatened when speaking in front of the headquarters of the Congress of that country before hundreds of his followers.
The president referred to his followers as “my army,” for the October 2022 polls for which former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is emerging as a favorite, according to a number of recent surveys.
Bolsonaro is convinced that without the manual system the opposition is most likely to commit fraud.
“We demand, together with you, who are in fact my army, our army, may the popular will be expressed in the public counting of the votes.”
“Whoever claims that the Brazilian electoral system is auditable and safe is a liar. Power is what is at stake. I am not here making hypotheses and wanting to impose my will. It is your will. If necessary, I will give the last alert to those who have no respect for us, he went on. Our union will free us from the shadow of communism and socialism.”