Brazil court bars voters who didn’t register fingerprints

September 26, 2018
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Women march to a campaign event with presidential candidate for the Workers Party, Fernando Haddad, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. Brazil will hold general elections on Oct. 7. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s highest court ruled Wednesday that 3.4 million people cannot vote in next month’s national elections because they failed to register their fingerprints with authorities, a move that could affect the crowded presidential race.

All voting is electronic in Brazil, and since 2016 voters have had to register their fingerprints to cast ballots under a biometric voting system.

On a 7-2 vote, the justices found it would be impossible to drop the requirement for biometric identification less than two weeks before the Oct. 7 elections. Two judges abstained.

Critics say authorities didn’t properly inform Brazilians of the requirement, so many failed to register their fingerprints.

Justice Luis Roberto Barroso said it was impossible to say the population was not informed about the need to register fingerprints to vote.

Brazil’s Socialist Party says blocking those voters is a way of impeding poor and uninformed people from casting ballots. Almost half of the questioned voter registrations are in Brazil’s impoverished northeast, which traditionally backs left-leaning parties.

Dilma Rousseff of the left-leaning Workers Party narrowly won the presidency in the previous election, in 2014, in a runoff battle with right-leaning Aecio Neves.

An Ibope poll published Wednesday pointed to the possibility of another such contest emerging in this year’s presidential ballot, which has about a dozen contenders.

Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro led the poll for the election’s opening round with 27 percent support, while left-leaning Fernando Haddad was second at 21 percent. If that divide holds up, those two would advance to a runoff on Oct. 28.

Asked about a runoff between those two, Brazilians indicated a tight race, with Haddad at 42 percent support and Bolsonaro at 28 percent.

The poll’s margin of error was two percentage points. Ibope interviewed 2,000 voters Sept. 22-24.

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