Electoral Court refuses to postpone 2020 elections

2020 elections
Superior Electoral Court. Photo: Abdias Pinheiro/ASCOM/TSE

The Superior Electoral Court has rejected a request to postpone Brazil’s October municipal elections due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Presented by right-wing Senator Major Olímpio, the petition suggested extending the terms of incumbent mayors for two years, before holding municipal, state, and federal elections together in 2022. Rosa Weber, the presiding judge of the electoral court, stated that even with the pandemic it would still be possible to hold elections. All seven justices voted for keeping the original calendar.

However, as our March 30 Weekly Report explains, the pandemic has upended the election system — as Brazil has no infrastructure for early voting or postal ballots. By design, Brazil’s electoral system puts lots of people in the same place: in line, for several minutes or hours, at polling stations. And the question of campaigning remains — how would candidates manage when they usually rely so heavily on meet-and-greets?

Several neighboring nations have already postponed their elections. 

If municipal, state and federal elections were to be held jointly in 2022, Mr. Olímpio argued, the country could save up to BRL 1.7 billion (USD 324.1 million). Political experts, however, argue that the financial cost of an election is by no means the top priority, as overlapping federal races with municipal ones would suffocate debate over local issues.