Ecuadoreans in NJ Voted for the Opposition Candidate

Polling station at Science Park High School in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo via Reporte Hispano)

Ecuador’s presidential candidate for the opposition Guillermo Lasso won in New Jersey and tied in New York despite the million-dollar television campaign carried out by ruling party candidate Lenín Moreno in the tri-state area.

Still, Moreno won the election. At press time, with 99 percent of the votes counted – both from inside Ecuador and abroad – the Consejo Nacional Electoral (National Election Council, or CNE), tallied 51.16 percent for Moreno, while Lasso received 48.84 percent.

Candidate Lasso emerged triumphant at most of the three poll sites in the Garden State, obtaining 5,491 votes (58.84 percent). Moreno got 3,841 (41.16 percent).

In New York, the CNE registered a draw, with 5,281 votes for each contender.

This time around, a slight increase in the number of voters was observed in New Jersey, where 9,812 people went to the polls, unlike the first round, in which only 8,943 voters cast a ballot. In total, 31,516 people were registered to vote. Voter participation remained low.

“I think the reason is that it is not mandatory to vote here,” said Juan, an Ecuador native, as he left the poll site located at the Science Park High School in Newark.

Manabí-born Rosa retorted: “But if we do any paperwork in Ecuador they fine us, so it is best to vote; not because it is mandatory, but to change the course of our country.”

Many people could not vote because they showed up too late. Also, the fear of Trump’s raids, which has – rightly or not – been blamed for the low turnout during the first round of voting, has not waned.

That is what lies behind the reluctance shown by many of our interviewees to give Reporte Hispano their full names.

Another Ecuadorean man, who chose to speak anonymously, told us that he came all the way from New York to vote because he is registered in New Jersey. Although he made it on time to the poll site, finding parking took him so long that he could not get in before the 5 p.m. deadline, when the location was scheduled to close.

Outside, voters continued to arrive as late as 5:30 p.m. only to find the doors closed.

Liliana Chamba, a member of polling station or Junta (board) 010 – where she only counted 134 voters, fewer than the 283 she saw during the first round – attributed the absenteeism to the disappointment felt by Ecuadoreans toward their country’s political class.

“Ecuadoreans no longer believe in anyone because they are tired of seeing corruption ruling our country,” said Chamba, born in the Zamora-Chinchipe province.

For her part, another Ecuadorean woman who did not wish to give her name said that the consulate’s initiative to provide buses near the Newark consular office to drive voters to poll sites was appropriate.

“Still, I think that, next time, they should put more voting sites near the areas where we Ecuadoreans live, as Plainfield and Hightstown and even Newark are too far away for those of us who live in Hudson or Passaic counties, where many Ecuadoreans reside,” she said.

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