This Sunday, Ecuador goes to the polls. After winning the presidency on a overhaul-the-system platform last November (I saw that campaign too, leaving the country the day before the election), Rafael Correa called a referendum on revising the constitution. As a result, they are now electing members to a Constitutional Assembly. I've spent the last week researching the subject night and day so I could give a presentation yesterday as my final project at school (thus the lack of blogging), so I'll give you more details later. For now, let me just show you the ballot. The first cool modern thing is that it has pictures of all the candidates.
That's just a small section of the ballot. In Pichincha, there are 34 parties running candidates--lists of 14 for provincial seats and 24 for national seats, adding up to 476 candidates to choose from. Nationwide, there are more than 4,000 people running for the 130-member Asamblea Constituyente.
Even with the pictures, there's no way you can keep all the names straight. Each party is assigned its own unchanging number, used in all their propaganda, and all the parties suggest you vote down the line for one "lista" by drawing a single line straight down an entire column. But you are also allowed to pick and choose candidates or half-lists.
Perhaps because voting is obligatory, with a few exceptions to make it a reasonable requirement, people are much more involved in the election than you'd see in the States. Or maybe it's because they're writing a new constitution, which seems particularly important. On the other hand, maybe that's not such a huge deal, given that it will be the country's 20th constitution since becoming a country in 1830. Regardless, there are bands of flag-waving party loyalists walking the streets, riding around in the backs of pick-up trucks, and handing out fliers on street corners. It's quite exciting, and knowing a bit about what's at stake--perhaps, sadly, more than most Ecuadorians--it's quite exciting. Having no particular opinion, it will just be interesting to see how it all turns out.