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Bolsonaro Calls Ambassadors to Cast Doubt on Electoral System

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(Bloomberg) -- President Jair Bolsonaro told foreign ambassadors that Brazil’s electronic voting machines are subject to fraud, rehashing old and debunked conspiracy theories about the security of the system Brazil has been using for more than two decades.

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Bolsonaro invited ambassadors to a meeting at his official residence on Monday to “exchange ideas about the electoral process,” according to a statement from the his office. The list of attendees wasn’t published by the government, but about 70 cars with representatives from foreign governments were seen leaving the presidential palace.

“I’m always accused of trying to stage a coup; I’m questioning [the security of the electronic ballots] in advance because we still have time to solve this problem,” Bolsonaro told his guests, according to remarks broadcast by Brazil’s state TV.

Bolsonaro, trailing former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in all major opinion polls ahead of October’s elections, has repeatedly cast doubt about the reliability of Brazil’s electronic voting system, even claiming without proof that his 2018 election was rigged against him as he should have won it in the first round of voting.

Read More: Bolsonaro’s Brawl With a Top Justice Tests Brazil’s Democracy

His invitation to foreign ambassadors came after electoral authorities invited them late in May to show evidence that Brazil’s voting system is safe and to invite them to work as foreign observers during the election.

Top Justice Edson Fachin, the head of Brazil’s electoral court, said after Bolsonaro’s meeting that statements to discredit Brazil’s voting system are “fake news.”

“The electoral justice is prepared and will carry out the 2022 election in a clean, transparent and auditable way,” he told an event organized by Brazil’s bar association. “The accusation of fraud and bad faith once again without presenting any evidence is very serious,” he added.

Read More: Brazil Electoral Court Fears Capitol-Style Riots in October Vote

Bolsonaro’s office didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on Fachin’s remarks.

Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco added that the security of Brazil’s electoral process can no longer be questioned.

“There’s no justification nor reason for that,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “Such questions are bad for Brazil in all aspects.”

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