Continued from page 2

Observers say the bill is a watershed in Brazilian politics, long dominated by strongmen who milk the system for personal gain and that of their cronies, and who often resort to shady tactics to hold onto power.

Under the measure, those convicted of charges such as fraud, drug trafficking, money laundering, sexual assault and murder are barred from running for public office for eight years.

Previously, those with criminal records were only ineligible if their cases could no longer be appealed to a higher court, a glacial process in Brazil’s overstrained justice system in which appeals can run on for decades.

The law was the fruit of a rare show of grass-roots organizing. Supporters flooded lawmakers with some 4 million emails and a petition with 1.3 million signatures.

The mobilization was so effective that even those legislators who spoke against the measure ended up voting for it, and it passed the Senate unanimously in 2010.

Already, kinks have emerged.

Out of the roughly 480,000 candidates running for mayor or city council in 5,565 cities and towns across Brazil, 2,969 are being examined by Brazil’s top electoral court in connection with the Clean Record law.

The volume of red-flagged candidacies is so high that the court has processed only 764 of them to date — and it has not released a list of the candidates it has barred from taking office even if they win their races.

A spokeswoman for the court said the list will be released in coming days and that the court hopes to get through all the cases by December, before the newly elected officials take office.

If the court disqualifies a winning candidate, the second-place finisher would take office instead.

The two biggest races Sunday were for mayors of Rio de Janeiro and of Sao Paulo, South America’s biggest metropolis.

In Rio, Mayor Eduardo Paes won in the first round, with 65 percent of the vote.

In Sao Paulo, two-time presidential candidate and former Gov. Jose Serra will face former Education Minister Fernando Haddad in a runoff Oct. 28.

From wire dispatches and staff reports