2022 Race

The cost of the military’s unofficial audit of the voting system

military unofficial audit Brazil voting system
Defense Minister Paulo Sérgio Nogueira speaks before a House committee. Photo: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr

President Jair Bolsonaro has for years tried to sow distrust in Brazil’s electronic voting system (which in nearly 30 years of use has never faced credible fraud allegations). 

Under the president’s auspices, the Armed Forces decided to carry out an unofficial audit of the voting system, despite having no constitutional mandate to do so. They did not release their findings after the first round, saying they would only do so after the runoff. 

In a statement published on Monday, the Defense Ministry promised to present its report on November 9. The department has denied multiple information requests presented by The Brazilian Report. Still, it did say that the unofficial audit cost BRL 75,600 (USD 14,800) to the public purse, between per diem rates and plane tickets for the 30 officers involved in the audit.

While audits by the Federal Accounts Court found no discrepancies between data from electoral machines and the published official results, military commanders have echoed Mr. Bolsonaro’s conspiracy theories about the country’s voting machines.

Over the weekend, the president promised supporters that he would do everything that is legal to fight. Many political observers fear this could mean that the Armed Forces’ audit may raise issues with the vote as a way of giving Mr. Bolsonaro a fighting platform — especially since he has yet to explicitly concede the election. 

The Defense Ministry says its work “aims to provide a precise, reliable and collaborative result to the Superior Electoral Court, compatible with the immense relevance of the theme for the Brazilian nation.”