The referendum in Ecuador: a lesson to drive change?


There is no citizen trust that can resist an election delay. This complicated scenario was lived in Ecuador, after the referendum held in May 7th, when the definitive results were known 12 days later.

The delay, along with the inconsistencies and irregularities in the computation of 7000 urn- the number of votes did not coincide with the number of voters-, as well as the information detached from the quick count of the National Electoral Council (CNE), that drastically reduced the projection made in the exit poll survey.

Ecuador has a 100% manual electoral system, which has gradually shown signs of exhaustion in maintaining the cleanliness of the process, as well as providing the certainty that that every vote exercised by the citizens qre counted accurately. The political class, on all sides, has expressed dissatisfaction with the way it has completed the count of votes, and even cast doubt on the veracity of the results.

Examples abound, the night of the referendum on Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa despite proclaiming victory in the 10 items surveyed stating that “Yes” won 62% of the votes, versus 38% of “No”, accused several provincial courts to “manipulate the record’s entry”. In turn, Clever Jiménez, Pachakutik indigenous party assemblyman, said he was concerned about the counting because he distrusted the CNE, as he was signed as being under the influence of the Executive.

From then until 12 days later, the bickering became the order of the day. While the results dictated that the “Yes” won in eight questions, but not with the great difference wielded by the president, on the other two of the most controversial questions, because it called for the empowerment to reform the judiciary and regulate press, the difference was minimal at a time, and in others, the “No” took the lead.

Although the “Yes” was the winner, the report issued by the Organization of American States (OAS), one of the multilateral organizations that acted as an observer of the referendum, prays that “we have no evidence of fraud, what we do have is evidence of significant inefficiencies in the count”.

The events during the two weeks could not be more eloquent for the whole country. However, the need to provide the Ecuador of a modern electoral system that allows quick, clean and safe elections, was not among the topics discussed by political actors in the midst of the tension.

It is there when citizens must take the word. Electoral system reform is a legal mandate since 2008, and even that year the adoption of the technology used by Venezuela, provided by Smartmatic to partially technify suffrage was considerated. But until now, the need to transform has not gone hand in hand with the will.

The referendum can be a lesson for Ecuador, and in the near future, we will know if the country is willing to take what they learn to drive change.

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