Ecuador Exit Polls Are Inconclusive in Presidential Election

  • One survey gives ruling party’s Moreno a first-round victory
  • Other polls indicate a runoff with conservative rival Lasso

Exit polls released shortly after voting stations in Ecuador’s presidential election closed indicated either a first-round victory by ruling-party candidate Lenin Moreno or a runoff with conservative Guillermo Lasso.

“We have won the elections,” Moreno said at a rally outside Alianza Pais headquarters in Quito after the release of a poll by Opinion Publica Ecuador, which reported 42.9 percent for Moreno and 27.7 percent for Lasso. Pollster Cedatos, however, reported 39.4 percent for Moreno and 30.5 percent for Lasso, while pollster Market indicated 36.2 percent for Moreno and 26.1 percent for Lasso.

Moreno needs at least 40 percent of the vote with a 10-point margin over Lasso to avoid a runoff April 2. A second round may favor Lasso as opponents of the government rally behind him. Four quick counts, which may give a clearer picture of the outcome, will be presented Sunday night.

Ecuadoreans are voting to elect a successor to President Rafael Correa, who for the first time in more than a decade wasn’t on the ballot. After voting in Quito, Correa declared that Moreno would win without a runoff. Highly popular after spending more than $300 billion on social programs, infrastructure and expanding government’s role in South America’s seventh-biggest economy, he had to ramp up government debt to maintain spending after the price of oil, the OPEC member’s top export, plunged after 2014.

Moreno, Correa’s chosen successor and a former vice president, has pledged to expand benefits to the poor, including tripling a monthly cash transfer to low-income families to $150, free housing, higher pensions for seniors, and 40 new technical universities, despite an economic recession.

Pending Polls

There were six other candidates on the ballot. Voters also chose the 137 members of Ecuador’s National Assembly, five members of the Andean Parliament, and decided whether to bar elected and professional public officials from owning assets in tax havens. Two exit polls, from non-governmental association Participacion Ciudadana and the National Electoral Council, are scheduled to release information from quick counts Sunday night.

Voters from some remote Amazon jungle and Andean villages can take hours to reach voting precincts and return home. Proof of voting is required to carry out numerous bureaucratic procedures like car registration, opening a bank account, or even renting a bicycle. A ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol began Friday noon and runs through noon on Monday.

Several incidents were reported during the elections. Police Colonel Carlos Zarate, deputy director of the special operations unit, in a video distributed by newspaper La Hora, reported that previously marked ballots had been discovered in the provinces of Carchi, Cotopaxi, Manabi, and Tungurahua, without specifying how many.

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