OAS will observe Brazil's elections

For the first time ever, a mission of international observers linked to the Organization of American States (OAS) will monitor the Brazilian electoral process – the first round is scheduled for October 7, when Brazil is set to elect a new president, 513 congressmen, 54 senators, 27 governors, and over 1,000 state lawmakers.

This kind of mission is more common in countries where electoral results are more contested and elections are marked by accusations of fraud, violence, institutional turmoil, or social conflicts. Recently, the Venezuelan election that kept the increasingly anti-democratic Nicolás Maduro government in power – and that was challenged by his opposition – was followed by international observers.

However, even in more established democracies, such as in the U.S., they can happen. It is worth remembering that, only 18 years ago, the American election was tainted by a highly questioned, bitter recount battle in Florida, which was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, giving the victory to George W. Bush over Al Gore. In his book Too Close to Call, New Yorker magazine writer and CNN pundit Jeffrey Toobin wrote:

“The wrong man was inaugurated on January 20, 2001, and this is no small thing in our nation’s history. The bell of this election can never be unrung, and the sound will haunt us for some time.”

After allowing international observers to monitor their elections, the U.S. &#8211; the biggest OAS member state &#8211; encourages its fellow member nations to do the same. Brazil invited the organization&#8217;s observers back in September 2017, signing an agreement on the observation process three months later.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mission, which will be deployed to Brazil at the end of September, is carrying out a preliminary visit this week in order to gather information on the progress made in the organization of the elections and learn about the perspectives of the different actors involved in the process.</span></p> <h2>The case of Brazil&#8217;s elections</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The October 7 general elections come at a time of turmoil in the country. Brazilians have lost their faith in democratic institutions, the frontrunner for the presidential race is behind bars, and the candidate coming in second place has already publicly defended torture and has said multiple times that our electoral system is simply not legitimate. Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro said that, even if he wins, the October elections will happen &#8220;under great suspicion.&#8221;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2014, on the week following his defeat to Dilma Rousseff by the slimmest margin in Brazilian democratic history, Senator Aécio Neves immediately challenged the result, saying that the Workers&#8217; Party candidate for re-election had benefited from tampered voting machines &#8211; later, though, authorities found nothing remotely indicating fraud. </span></p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/485867913&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=true&amp;show_comments=false&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=false" width="100%" height="166" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The fact is, however, that in 2015 the lower house approved an amendment to the Constitution (sponsored by Mr. Bolsonaro) determining that Brazil return to paper ballots &#8211; in addition to electronic voting. The Supreme Court ruled against the measure, saying that it jeopardized the secrecy of the vote, and restating that the quality and security of electronic voting machines were secured.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">No matter what OAS observers find, the election will be contested by almost half of the electorate, as staff writer Euan Marshall </span><a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2018/01/09/2018-election-contested/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">wrote</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> back in January.

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PowerAug 25, 2018

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