Pérez continues to build lead over Lasso as count continues; CNE says certification could take weeks
As election workers around the country count the last two percent of Sunday’s vote, Yaku Pérez of the Pachakutik indigenous movement continues to add to his small lead over CREO candidate Guillermo Lasso for the right to challenge Andrés Arauz [Unión por la Esperanza] in the April 11 presidential runoff.
As of early Tuesday morning, Pérez had 20.12 percent of the vote to Lasso’s 19.48 percent, double the lead from Monday morning.
On Monday afternoon, National Elections Council (CNE) president Diana Atamaint said it could be days, even weeks, before there is a final certification of Sunday’s vote, including of the presidential race. “We still must finish counting votes and there remain a large number of irregular and inconsistent ballots to review,” she said. “The process in underway with the 24 provincial elections boards and the electoral law grants ten days to finish the process. If we encounter delays, we may ask the courts for more time.”
Although most irregular ballots are counted, they are set aside for further review once the official count ends, Atamaint says. “So far, we have identified more than 1.4 million ballots for review, which represents more than 13 percent of all ballots cast in the election. Once we review these, results could change as we throw out ballots that do not meet standards.”
Atamaint describes irregular ballots as ones that lack signatures of voting station officials, that could not be scanned or that showed other inconsistencies. Based on past experience, she said most of the ballots will be determined to be valid.
Once all counting is complete and irregular ballots are reviewed, there is a period that allows candidate challenges followed by final review and certification of the CNE. “By law, all of these phases must be completed by March 15,” Atamaint says. “This is particularly important for the presidential runoff to allow sufficient time for campaigning.”
On Monday, both Pérez and Lasso expressed confidence that they would face Arauz in the runoff. Pérez, however, suggested that there were “players,” including Lasso, former Guayaquil mayor Jaime Nebot and former president Rafael Correa who are working to overturn his lead. He also questioned results in several provinces, claiming that his vote was under-counted. Lasso, on the other hand, said it was “a time to remain calm,” as he expressed confidence in the election process.
To calm tensions in the presidential race, Isabel de Saint Melo, head of the electoral observation mission for the Organization of American States (OAS), has requested that the CNE invite Lasso and Pérez to meetings to explain the final steps of the election process.
In other election news, preliminary results for the National Assembly indicate that no party will hold more than 30 percent of the chamber’s 137 seats. With vote counting continuing, the Unión por la Esperanza [Arauz] and Pachakutik [Pérez] will have the largest blocks, with smaller blocks controlled by CREO [Lasso] and the Christian Democrats [Nebot].
According to election analysts, the division in the Assembly will make it difficult for the new president to enact much of the legislation promised during the campaign.