Electoral courts impeach state lawmaker for voting system disinformation

Disinformation,WordDisinformation,Concept./ Shutterstock: Casimiro PT

Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE) voted in favor of impeaching Paraná state lawmaker Fernando Franceschini after he was adjudged to have spread disinformation regarding Brazil’s electronic voting system ahead of the 2018 election.

During the 2018 campaign, Mr. Franceschini claimed on social media that Brazil’s electronic ballot boxes had been rigged to impede President Jair Bolsonaro from winning the vote. Mr. Franceschini went on to become the best-voted lawmaker in the history of Paraná state.

He will now become ineligible for eight years and will resume his previous job as a Federal Police chief.

Today’s ruling is the first time Brazil’s electoral courts have convicted a politician for attacks on the country’s electronic voting system, deciding that Mr. Franceschini “incorrectly used media platforms and abused his political power” by spreading disinformation online. The ruling may create a precedent ahead of this year’s general elections.

Initially, local courts were against punishing the politician, claiming that social media cannot be considered a medium for mass communication. In its decision, the TSE has affirmed that social media platforms are in fact comparable to traditional media such as TV and radio stations, magazines, and newspapers.