Lenin Moreno declared victory Sunday night in Ecuador’s hotly contested presidential election. He told cheering supporters that he will continue the work of President Rafael Correa but said there would be changes in both substance and style. He admitted that his narrow victory indicated a deeply divided electorate.
Lenin Moreno claiming victory Sunday night.
Morerno’s challenger, Guillermo Lasso, said he will contest the results of the election, claiming voting irregularities and potential fraud.
As of 9 a.m. Monday, with 99% of the votes counted, Moreno led Lasso 51% to 49%, according to the National Electoral Council (CNE). The lead has remained virtually unchanged since the CNE announced the first results two hours after polls closed, with 92% of votes counted.
Election night gave early encouragement to both campaigns as two exit polls indicated opposite outcomes. Just after voting ended at 5 p.m., the Cedatos-Gallup poll called the race for Lasso, 53.02% to 46.98% while Perfiles de Opinion said Moreno was the winner, 52.2% to 47.8%. Later, after most votes had been counted, a third exit poll taken by the National Polytechnic School, gave Moreno a 51.15% to 48.85% advantage.
As the National Electoral Council (CNE) began releasing official vote totals at 8:30 p.m., the high spirits of Lasso and his campaign gave way to anger, with the candidate saying he would not accept a Moreno victory.
Lasso supporters tore down police barrier near the CNE headquarters in Quito after hearing the official results and there were sporadic fights between Lasso and Moreno supporters in Quito and Guayaquil. Other election night violence was reported in Ambato and Santo Domingo.
The Lasso campaign says it will file a formal complaint of voting irregularities with Electoral Court of Appeals (TCE), which will delay the CNE from issuing a final verdict in the election. The TCE has 48 hours to respond. Lasso said he would also file a complaint with the Organization of American States (OAS), which monitored the election.
Lasso’s challenge was bolstered when the Corporación Participación Ciudadana (PC), a non-profit organization that counted votes alongside CNE, reported at 9 p.m. that the race was too close to call. With 99% of the votes counted, PC said there was a separation between the candidates of less than .06%. PC’s count is not official.
Shortly after polls closed Sunday, international election observers as well as poll watchers from Moreno’s Alianza Pais and Lasso’s Creo party, said the vote had gone smoothly with no signs of voting fraud.
Almost 13 million Ecuadorian voters went to the polls on Sunday.