For a pretty corrupt country, Ecuador takes its elections pretty seriously. Here’s what happens:
- Leading up to the elections, political parties and candidates go crazy! At least compared to the U.S., that is. For example, political parties distribute flags for people to hang outside their house and then drive around making a lot of noise. There are also a lot of rallies and free stuff (mostly posters, stickers, and matchboxes).
- The weekend of elections is also prohibition. Voting day is on Sunday, but starting from Friday noon until Monday noon, no alcohol can be sold or consumed (publicly). If they catch you, there’s a pretty hefty fine.
- You can start voting when you’re 16 (voluntary), but voting becomes obligatory when you’re 18 or older. If you don’t vote, you don’t get a special “voter’s card” that you need to do important things (travel, buy a home, open a bank account, etc.). You probably get shamed by your fellow citizens too. There might be more consequences, but I’m not sure.
- You have to vote in your city of residence too. A bunch of kids at my University (in Cumbaya) have to return to their respective regions to vote. You can’t just vote anywhere and you can’t send in an absentee ballot (this isn’t America, yo). Public elementary schools and high schools are official voting places. Also, public school students get Monday off because the schools will be cleaning up after the election.
- There are exceptions to the obligatory voting rule: 1) if you’re 16 or 17 (voluntary as I mentioned earlier), 2) if you live REALLY far from a polling place, 3) if you’re over 65, or 4) if you’re really sick/hospitalized. So I’ve heard. There are probably more I haven’t heard of too.
Anyway, I’m excited to experience my first Ecuadorian mayoral elections! I’m planning on meeting up with my family after church on Sunday to go to a polling place with them. What a cultural experience man! I’ll let you know how it goes. HOLLA BALLAS.