Hundreds arrested after pro-Bolsonaro riot in Brazil’s capital: Live updates

In the weeks after Presidential elections in Brazilgovernment officials and independent security experts reviewed the results and made a clear determination: There is no credible evidence of voter fraud.

In November, a long-awaited report on the voting process from the Brazilian army said it found no evidence of wrongdoing. He also said that the nature of Fully digital voting system in Brazil meant he couldn’t definitively rule out a specific fraud scenario.

Independent security experts generally applauded the report, saying it was technically sound. They pointed to the same hypothetical fraud scenario in the past — government insiders inserting sophisticated malware into Brazil’s voting machines — while stressing that it was extremely unlikely.

Brazil finds itself in a difficult situation. Security experts say the electronic voting system is reliable, efficient and, like any digital system, not 100 percent secure. Now, politically motivated actors are using this grain of truth as a reason to question the results of a vote in which there is no evidence of fraud.

For years, Mr. Bolsonaro has attacked Brazil’s electoral system as riddled with fraud, despite a lack of evidence. As a result, three out of four of Mr. Bolsonaro’s supporters now say they do have little or no confidence in Brazil’s voting machinesaccording to polls.

To ease those concerns, election officials invited the Brazilian military to a transparency commission last year. It was seen as a gesture to Mr. Bolsonaro, a former army captain who had stacked his administration with generals. Quickly the military began echoing some of Mr Bolsonaro’s criticismscausing concern in a nation that suffered from military dictatorship until 1985.

After all, the military and election officials agreed to some changes to the voting machine tests.

Supporters of Mr. Bolsonaro have pushed videos of malfunctioning voting machines, anecdotal reports of foul play by election officials and inaccurate analyzes of vote results as evidence of something amiss. Independent experts investigated the claims and said they had no validity.

Three hours after the polls closed, computers had counted almost all 118 million votes. This efficiency is partly due to the fact that Brazil is the only country in the world that uses a completely digital voting system, with no paper backups. Yet for years Mr. Bolsonaro has characterized this lack of paper records as a vulnerability that calls into question any choices.

The military said its technical experts found no irregularities in the voting process or the results of the two national votes last month. He also said that election officials did not allow his experts to fully inspect the 17 million lines of computer code on the voting machines and that officials did not test enough machines on Election Day to rule out the possibility that they contained malware , who can manipulate the vote count.

“It’s technically very correct,” said Marcos Simplicio, a cybersecurity researcher at the University of Sao Paulo who tests Brazil’s voting machines.

Still, Mr. Simplício and other experts said the machines are very safe, with layers of security designed to prevent fraud and errors. Mr. Simplício’s team of cybersecurity researchers, for example, tried to hack the machines without success. This is partly because the machines are not connected to the internet, making them virtually impossible to tamper with without physical access, and because they are encrypted and use technology to protect their encryption keys, similar to that used in the iPhone.

Still, experts pointed to one scenario that seems possible. A group of government engineers who write the machines’ software can insert malicious code to change the votes. But to do this, multiple engineers will need to act at the right time and work together without detection. And the malicious code must be sophisticated enough to recognize a machine test and disable itself for the duration of the test.

Security experts generally support the concept of paper records, which was pushed by Mr. Bolsonaro. But they also warn that it would introduce another variable that could be attacked by bad actors — or, perhaps more importantly, exploited by those who claim voter fraud.

Mr. Bolsonaro, who authorized his government to carry out a transition of his election opponent, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, on Sunday criticized the actions of his supporters, says on Twitter that peaceful demonstrations are part of democracy, but that “the destruction and invasion of public buildings, such as what happened today,” are not.

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