Future head of Electoral Justice ponders new election model for 2020

. May 22, 2020
election Future head of Electoral Justice ponders new election model for 2020 Supreme Court Justice Luís Roberto Barroso. Photo: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr

We first alerted readers to this on March 30: the Covid-19 pandemic has upended the 2020 municipal election in Brazil. By design, the country’s electoral system creates public gatherings and poses many threats in the Covid-19 world — with thousands of people sharing an electronic voting machine.

During a video broadcast held by finance newspaper Valor, Supreme Court Justice Luís Roberto Barroso — who will take over as the country’s presiding justice of the Superior Electoral System — admitted the possibility of alternative election systems. The array of possibilities include ballots being cast through mobile apps or even having election days — plural. “Maybe with the elderly voting earlier,” he said. Every extra electoral day would cost an extra BRL 180 million.

It took months, but Congress is already discussing ways to postpone the October election. However, House Speaker Rodrigo Maia has adamantly opposed any change including an extension of incumbents’ terms beyond December 31, 2020. He told reporters that giving politicians longer terms is a danger in Brazil — despite the special conditions imposed by the pandemic. Mr. Maia fears it would set a dangerous precedent, opening the door for leaders that could “fabricate emergency situations” to prolong their time in power.

Any change to the electoral calendar would take a constitutional amendment — meaning it must be approved by both houses of parliament in a two-round vote that calls for a 60-percent majority.

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Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist, Gustavo has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. He has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets and founded The Brazilian Report in 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

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