As of Tuesday, with five days to go until the October 2 elections, Brazilian voters can no longer be arrested unless they are caught in flagrante.
Brazil’s electoral law seeks that voters cannot be arrested during the five days prior to an election and in the 48 hours that follow it — a measure that aims to guarantee citizens’ right to vote freely and reduce the risk of undemocratic crackdowns to suppress turnout in a specific constituency, for example.
Any voter who is detained during that time must immediately appear before a judge who will verify the legality of the arrest.
There are fears that the next few days may see more isolated cases of political violence, which could justify arrests. On Monday, police in the state of Ceará confirmed the arrest of a man suspected of having stabbed a bar patron to death on Saturday, after the victim expressed his support for former president and election frontrunner Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Meanwhile, Lula’s Workers’ Party has suggested that its local representatives request information from municipal authorities regarding the organization of public transportation on Election Day. The concern is that inadequate transportation might prevent low-income constituents from getting to the polls.
Lula is very popular amongst the poorer segments of the electorate, leading incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro 57 percent to 23 percent amongst those earning up to one minimum wage, and 53 percent to 29 percent amongst the segment earning between one and two minimum wages, according to an Ipec poll released Monday night.
In contrast, Mr. Bolsonaro leads voting intentions 44 percent to 38 percent for Lula amongst voters who earn more than five times the minimum wage.
Candidates in the elections have already been benefiting from this electoral immunity since September 17. The electoral rules preventing arrests will come into force again around the second round of the elections, which will take place on October 30.