Ecuadorians living overseas to vote again following cyberattacks; Cuenca to enforce pigeon-feeding ban, citing poop problem; El Niño strengthens

Aug 26, 2023 | 0 comments

The National Electoral Council has thrown out National Assembly election results from Ecuadorians living outside the country and plans to schedule a new vote in the coming days.

The CNE says Sunday’s voting results were “compromised by cyberattacks” that prevented some votes from being counted. According to CNE security officers, the attacks originated in Russia, China and Pakistan.

The revote will only involve the National Assembly, says CNE President Diana Atamaint. “We are going back to the polls for another vote due to the telematic disruptions caused by foreign hackers. The process will only involve the National Assembly. The results of the first election for president and the two referendums will not be on the ballot.”

Due to cyberattacks, the Electoral Council decided Thursday that Ecuadorians living overseas will vote again for the National Assembly.

According to Atamaint, cyberattacks have been confirmed on 786 ballots and may have prevented as many as many as 70,000 from voting.

According to CNE records, 409,000 Ecuadorians were registered to vote overseas but only 120,000 votes were counted. “Many of those registered may have chosen not to vote but we cannot be sure of the number,” Atamaint said.

Several organizations have criticized the government for the low overseas registration number, saying it did not do enough to encourage voting. The Ecuador census office estimates that about three million Ecuadorians live overseas.

City to enforce pigeon-feeding prohibition
Cuenca’s Citizen Guard will begin actively enforcing a city ban on feeding pigeons in public spaces. The ban has been on the books for years but is rarely enforced, according to Carlos Orellana, Environmental Management Commission director.

“The Guard has started issuing warnings and fines for residents who feed pigeons in parks and on other public property,” Orellana said. “Our estimates are that the pigeon population in Cuenca grown by at least 50% in the last 10 years and it poses a health threat to citizens and is resulting in structural damage to buildings.” He says the pigeon population in the city is between 300,000 and 400,000.

Orellana says pigeon poop is a “breeding ground” for a number of dangerous bacterias that can affect human health. “Obviously, the more pigeons, the more poop, and the poop is also damaging public and private property, including public statues.”

El Niño continues to strengthen
According to The National Meteorology Institute (Inamhi), the El Niño weather system in the Pacific Ocean continues to strengthen. “With all the interest in the election, the fact that we face a deadly growing danger can be easily overlooked. We must continue our preparations,” a spokesman for Inamhi said Thursday.

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA), there is a higher than 95% chance the event will be the strongest El Niño since 1998 and could possibly equal that event. NOAA says the El Niño will last until February or March 2024, and have far-reaching climate impacts.

The Inamhi spokesman urged local and national government agencies to speed up preparations for coastal flooding, noting that the 1998 El Niño “cost many lives and caused billions of dollars in infrastructure damage.”

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