Brazil’s chief electoral justice Alexandre de Moraes on Sunday said that the unusually large number of Federal Highway Police (PRF) operations on Election Day did not stop voters from reaching the polls.
At The Brazilian Report has shown, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s campaign earlier today requested the Superior Electoral Court to subpoena (and later arrest) the head of Brazil’s Federal Highway Police for several cases of alleged voter suppression.
Videos and photos published on social media show Federal Highway Police agents conducting operations in several Brazilian states, causing traffic jams in mostly rural areas.
Date obtained by The Brazilian Report shows that the number of routine searches of vehicles increased by 80 percent when compared to October 2, the first round of elections.
About half of today’s operations were conducted in the Northeast region of Brazil, a Workers’ Party stronghold. In the first round, Lula won in all nine northeastern states — which, alongside a lead in the North, outweighed President Jair Bolsonaro’s lead in the South, Southeast, and Center-West regions.
“[The Federal Highway Police operations] in no case prevented voters from reaching their polling stations,” Justice Moraes said in a press conference on Sunday afternoon. “The buses did not turn back (…) The voters who were being transported did vote.”
Justice Moraes relied heavily on what he was told by PRF boss Silvinei Vasques in a meeting held shortly before the press conference. For instance, he said that Mr. Vasques — who did not take part in the press conference — told him that routine searches do not take longer than 15 minutes. A source within the PRF told The Brazilian Report that such searches can take from between 30 minutes to over an hour.
On Saturday night, Mr. Vasques requested his Instagram followers to vote to re-elect President Bolonaro. He later deleted the post.
Justice Moraes also said that the states where operations take place are not up to electoral authorities to judge. He also said that the election will not be extended. Polls are set to close shortly. Voters already in line at polling stations will be allowed to vote.
The Federal Highway Police released a statement but did not explain the increase in the number of operations, nor their concentration in the Northeast.