Ballot boxes closed at 5:00 pm local time Sunday in Ecuador for the 2019 national midterm elections. However, as no clear winners were announced by midnight, electoral officials announced counting was suspended until Monday morning, at least for the country's capital province of Pichincha. Elections were even called off due to violence between militarized police and citizens in the northern province on Esmeraldas.
According to an official statement from the National Electoral Council (CNE), preliminary results were expected by 8:30 pm.
Ecuador Midterms To Elect 5,000 Local Officials Begin
In the CNE's most recent report, President Diana Atamaint confirmed that the counting process hadn't been delayed. However by 21:30 pm March 24, nationwide only 43.24 percent of the mayoral votes had been counted, 26.22 percent of provincial governors, and 12.6 percent of all other electoral posts.
This round of midterms saw all 23 governorships and vice-governorships up for grabs, along with 221 mayoral posts, 867 urban council seats, 438 rural council posts, and 4,089 parish council posts. A new round of the seven-member Citizen Participation and Social Control Council (CPCCS) was also voted on by the public. There are approximately 13 million eligible voters in Ecuador.
Several anomalies were reported by users on social media, including sudden blackouts limited to polling stations throughout the capital city of Quito. Voters were publically critical of the silence on part of the media and government officials regarding the matter. Candidates and citizens complained that the CNE website does not work.
I've worked on the Ecuadorean elections for year. This is the first time I haven't been able to begin an analysis because there are no results or trends on the @cnegobec website. An embarrassment until the finish: they don't allow you to vote or work!
The inconsistent electricity did not stop right-wing candidate from the Social Christian and Madera de Guerrero parties, Cynthia Viteri, from declaring herself Guayaquil's newest mayor. Viteri is backed by Jaime Nebot who has been mayor of Guayaquil, Ecuador's most populated city, since the year 2000.
So far, no pollster has been able to predict the preliminary results for Quito's mayoral office, but with 23 percent of the votes processed Sunday night, Jorge Yunda of the Ecuadorean Union party is in the lead with 23.3 percent, followed by Luisa Maldonado with 19.3 of votes. Maldonado represents Social Commitment, a party backed by former President Rafael Correa.
Official figures show that Paola Pabon, also of the newly formed Social Commitment is winning by three points over her closest rival Juan Zapata of the Democratic Left for the Pichincha provincial governorship.
Voters in Cuenca, one of the country's largest and most influential cities, have given Pedro Palacios, a political outsider, the lead in the polls for mayor.
Blackouts and anomalies during the process
According to information from Ecuador's 911 system located in Quito, 14 polling stations reported problems with electricity. In social media, citizens warned that the vote count in several electoral precincts is being carried out without light. According to a press release from ECU-911, at the national level emergency responders attended to 4,681 incidences during Sunday's elections, 498 of which were in electoral precincts.
First responders and the military were called to the scene of a polling station in San Lorenzo, Esmeraldas located along with border with Colombia because voters there began to overturn filled ballot boxes. Video images released by El Comercio newspaper show residents kicking spilled ballots that had fallen to the ground as they were surrounded by heavily armed military members.
National newspaper El Telegrafo published a photograph of the United States Ambassador in Ecuador, Todd Chapman, at the CNE headquarters in Quito speaking with officials on site.
Several voters in Ecuador complained about this via social media, questioning the role of a U.S. diplomat in the country's electoral process.