Brazilian Defense Ministry, General Paulo Sérgio Nogueira de Oliveira, appeared before the Senate Thursday to explain why it was important to hold a separate vote counting in this year's presidential elections.
The military officer's message to lawmakers on the Election Transparency Committee came after the Armed Forces submitted to the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) a series of recommendations regarding the Oct. 2 event, with a possible runoff scheduled for Oct. 30.
Although Nogueira denied any political bias, his words seemed to echo previous messages by President Jair Bolsonaro casting doubts on the trustworthiness of the electronic voting system in use in the country.
The minister's presence stemmed from an invitation by Senator Eduardo Girão (Podemos-CE).
We were urged and invited to participate in the Commission, and from the moment we receive a mission, we go all the way, Nogueira said.
And the fulfillment of this mission is to deliver the conditions for improvement and transparency. It is not politically biased, it is not to put anyone in check. We could not fail to present this work as we are seeking to present it, he added.
Nogueira insisted the Armed Forces' suggestions would solve a lot of things in the relationship between the military and the Electoral Justice: the performance of the ballot box Integrity Test under the same voting conditions, including the use of biometrics; the promotion of the Public Security Test in the UE2020 ballot box model; and an incentive, on the part of the TSE, for auditing by other entities, mainly by political parties, as provided by the electoral legislation.
Bolsonaro's claims about alleged weaknesses in the electronic ballot boxes have been systematically downplayed by the TSE, which has grounds to maintain that the Brazilian electoral system has oversight mechanisms that allow for the auditing of electronic voting in all its phases.
Nogueira's proposal included the military participating in a parallel control of the elections through a separate vote count from paper ballots, an initiative that has already been ruled out by TSE Chief Justice Edson Fachin.
Meanwhile, Vice President Hamilton Mourao, a retired Army general, ruled out that anything comparable to the storming of Capitol Hill in the United States in January of 2021 might occur in Brazil. The Minister of Defense and the commanders of the Armed Forces have already made a public commitment not to interfere in the electoral process, he pointed out.
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