Bolsonaro, who is under pressure amid allegations of corruption and the COVID-19 crisis in the country ahead of presidential elections slated for next year, wants a receipt printed after each vote on the electronic ballot box to allow the physical recount of votes.
Bolsonaro is set to face a serious challenge from former left-wing president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, whose recent polls show he would beat the far-right leader in the 2022 contest.
“What we want is for the votes to be recounted publicly, for more transparency because there have been suspicions of fraud,” Ronaldo Calvalcante, 46, told AFP news agency since the gathering of Rio, which gathered around 3,000 people. Thousands of people also gathered in the capital, Brasilia.
The country’s electoral tribunal said the current voting system was completely transparent and never showed widespread irregularities, but Bolsonaro alleged without evidence that the fraud tainted the 2018 presidential election he won.
Al Jazeera’s Monica Yanakiew, in a report from Rio on Sunday, said Bolsonaro argued that fraud prevented him from winning in the first round. “But there is no proof of that,” Yanakiew said.
Experts have accused Bolsonaro of seeking to sow the seeds of doubt ahead of next year’s election, as has former US President Donald Trump, whom the Brazilian leader emulated.
Trump falsely claimed for weeks that the November 2020 US presidential election he lost to Joe Biden was marred by widespread fraud.
“Eleven political parties have asked for evidence of fraud in the past. What they say is that [Bolsonaro is] trying to establish a narrative much like Donald Trump did in the United States that there will be fraud in next year’s presidential election, ”Yanakiew said.
“And in case he loses, he will have the right not to accept the results. “
Bolsonaro did not directly participate in Sunday’s rallies, but he said by video conference that he would not accept election results that are not “correct and democratic”. He added that he would do “whatever it takes” to ensure that paper receipts are printed after each electronic vote.
President faces mounting political pressure to justify his handling of COVID-19, which has killed more than 556,300 people – the second highest death toll in the world after the United States – according to University data Johns Hopkins.
Questions have also surfaced about alleged irregularities in his government’s procurement process for coronavirus vaccines, as well as accusations of past corruption. Bolsonaro has denied the allegations.
Thousands of people demonstrated across the South American nation last weekend to denounce Bolsonaro and demand his impeachment. A recent poll showed that a majority of Brazilians supported such a move.