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Pro-Bolsonaro Telegram groups promise ‘parallel’ vote count

Supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro have organized themselves on Telegram to carry out a supposed “public count of votes.” They have created 27 groups — one for each Brazilian state — which bring together 88,000 people.

The groups’ organizers ask voters to send photos of their voting receipts — a piece of paper polling workers hand out as proof that a person voted. (As voting is mandatory in Brazil, these receipts can be used by citizens to prove they have fulfilled their electoral obligations. They can also be used as proof of life for senior citizens receiving welfare benefits).

According to the Superior Electoral Court, however, the document has absolutely no function for counting the votes. It only proves that someone voted, but brings no indication of who they voted for.

The groups take their cue from President Bolsonaro, who for years has questioned the integrity of electronic voting machines and suggested that the system is rigged — part of an alleged conspiracy to unseat him. Mr. Bolsonaro, however, has never presented proof of his claims.

In his last campaign event, the incumbent said “there is no way [he] won’t get at least 60 percent of the votes.” Polls show him in the low-to-mid-30s range, however.

Voting receipts have been the topic of several pieces of disinformation. One claims that failing to request a receipt would allow poll workers to defraud their vote. That is absolutely not the case, as the receipt is a piece of paper that bears no interference with voting machines’ software.

Electoral authorities issued a statement pointing out that voters can cross-reference data on the total number of votes through an app “created precisely to encourage the electorate to monitor the electoral process.”

The app gives quick access to the results of ballot boxes by reading a QR Code and allows you to compare the official results.

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