Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday February 19, 2017 Voting for change

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Sunday February 19, 2017
Up early as usual, but I had the ulterior motive of beating the crowds to vote in the general election here.  I tried to find the voting hours online without success.  One of my Ecuadorian buddies was on Facebook early so I messaged him.  He said that he thought they opened at 6am.
I had my original Cedula (Identity card) plus the paper showing that I registered to vote.  My buddy had also told me to bring a pen, so I did that too.
The address for the voting station was at a school which I thought was on Republica, on the way downtown..  It is a good thing that I checked the map because it was on Republicano, just west of here, about 3 blocks further than where I walk the dogs.
I arrive to see the park next to the school bustling with tents for food and a whole whack for laminating documents!  Soldiers everywhere with rifles are keeping order in this peaceful neighbourhood.
I look to the left and see voting stations in an alphabetical name order (no sense of name privacy here).  It is after 7am and things are still getting organized.   Then the gal next to me says that this is a women's voting booth, and the men's is on the other side..  I wasn't the only guy there but  figured she wasn't joshing me, so off I go to indeed find my men's booth voting station 3 in a hallway.
All the voting stations seem to be run by high school or University students.  Voting station 2 seems organized and there is only a line-up of two people.  Our station 3 is manned by the 3 stooges, completely unprepared and disorganized, and it takes another 15 minutes before the lineup can move, which is about 15 deep by now.  Then a soldier comes and says that the Tercera Edad (Old farts over 65) can move to the front, so I sheepishly move ahead and am 4th in line.
They take my Cedula and voter registration to compare with their voter's list, (complete with our photos), then they give me my multi-pages of ballots.  The voter's list in my section didn't seem that big.
We have 4 sheets of voting, complete with photos, names, and affiliations.  One is for 8 Presidential candidates, and 3 sheets are for different categories for the National Assembly.  One sheet is 15 faces X 15 faces, so you can do the math.  It was easiest to pick the party reps for the Presidential candidate that a person wants on that one.
There is also a small seet for some kind of Plebiscite which I did not understand.   
There are only 2 cardboard voting booths so things are really slow.  Then you have to fold up the papers for insertion into 2 slots in the front of the booth, one for the Presidential ballot (quicker to count I guess) and the other is for the Assembly folks.  There is a clear plastic panel so you can watch your ballots go into the pile.  What fun!
Then they make us sign off on their voter list and we get handed a cute card with our name and photo to confirm that we have voted (mandatory for Ecuadorians).
When we step back into the park people chase you to laminate the card for $.50c.
I can imagine that it will take them a long time to come up with the Assembly winners.
Now the waiting game begins.  A Presidential candidate has to have over 40% support to win on the first ballot.   This is highly unlikely to happen with 3 main candidates, and 5 minor candidates, splitting the pot.  The top two will have a runoff election in April apparently.
The only reason that I am half-politicized for this election is that I want to see the crooks from the present Government who have stolen my money, and made a mockery of their beautiful Constitution, go to jail!   Yes, President Correa has done some good things and made a theatrical show of fighting corruption, but he and his cronies have feathered their beds at our expense, left the country in ridiculous debt to Communist China, and are as corrupt as any previous Government.  How they have illegally searched personal emails, muzzled the press, stifled opposition, sold off our resources to China, discriminated, plus suborned the courts to cancel any legal challenges, should send them right into their jail cells.  The main Presidential challenger and his Vice-President have promised us to stop Correa from fleeing to Belgium and to jail the corrupt politicians and judges..... and, by God, they got my vote!
I hope you enjoy the photos. That was the day's excitement. Cheers, Al

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Soldiers watch as voting is underway at some stations already

This was the men's lineup at my Station 3

Station 2 was organized with all the multiple ballots

The park was hopping with food booths and laminators

Everybody has to vote in Ecuador, so lots of customers

Yeah, I paid 50c to get my voting card laminated

This is the back of the card