Amid reports of voter suppression, the Federal Highway Police (PRF) increased the number of routine searches of vehicles on Sunday, Brazil’s runoff Election Day, by 80 percent when compared to the October 2 first round. By 2 pm, 546 operations were being carried out nationwide, against 297 throughout October 2.
The data comes from a PRF memo to which The Brazilian Report had access.
President Jair Bolsonaro faces former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in what is set to be one of the closest races in Brazilian democratic history. The leftist’s campaign filed a lawsuit before the Superior Electoral Court amid fears that voter suppression could tip the scales in favor of Mr. Bolsonaro. Many of the complaints come from Lula-leaning states in the Northeast.
The country’s chief electoral justice, Alexandre de Moraes, subpoenaed PRF boss Silvinei Vasques. Lula’s campaign requested the arrest of Mr. Vasques.
Off-duty officers were called to work to fulfill the high number of police operations. In all, a total of 3,100 officers were called up.
There is an order in place for highway patrols to remain at routine search locations until they can be replaced by another team. One federal highway police officer who spoke to The Brazilian Report under condition of anonymity called the move “unusual.”
On Saturday night, hours before the polls opened, Brazil’s chief electoral justice Alexandre de Moraes banned the force from conducting any routine searches on public transportation until the elections are over. Early on Sunday, Mr. Vasques issued a memo to state-level PRF superintendents saying the ruling would not affect operations scheduled until November 1. Mr. Vasques recently asked his Instagram followers to vote for President Bolsonaro. He later deleted the post.