QUITO – Indigenous presidential candidate Yaku Perez said on Tuesday that “more than 16,000 records with inconsistencies” have been detected in Ecuador’s Feb. 7 election, insisting that he has been the victim of election fraud that kept him from being one of the two candidates in the April runoff vote, according to preliminary results.
“We have accumulated more than 16,000 election returns with inconsistencies, out of the 39,000 returns, almost 50 percent with inconsistencies,” said Perez, with the Pachakutik movement, during a speech surrounded by his followers at El Arbolito park in Quito.
The election return documents to which he was referring are the tabulations of the votes at each election precinct.
Dozens of members of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples congregated at the park after a march lasting a number of days from the southern part of the country to demand transparency in the vote count.
In his speech, Perez insisted that all of the ballot boxes be opened in Guayas province and 50 percent of them in the country’s other 16 provinces, claiming that they were tampered with during the counting of the ballots.
He said that the National Election Council (CNE) has proof of “more than 16,000 incidents” of fraud, which members of the indigenous movement have been noticing for the past few days, especially after center-right candidate Guillermo Lasso surpassed Perez as the vote count proceeded.
According to the CNE’s preliminary election results, Union for Hope alliance candidate Andres Arauz – the candidate backed by former president Rafael Correa, who governed from 2007-2017 – obtained 32.72 percent of the votes (3,033,753), while Lasso, with the Creating Opportunities (CREO) movement, obtained 19.74 percent, or 1,830,045 votes.
The official vote count showed that Perez received 19.39 percent of the ballots, or 1,797,445 votes, putting him some 32,600 votes behind Lasso and thus excluding him from the presidential runoff round.
Once the figures from last Sunday’s election were announced, the CNE said in a statement that “the two presidential candidates going into the second electoral round on April 11” will be Arauz and Lasso, although other candidates may still file administrative and jurisdictional appeals, as long as they have evidence of inconsistencies and/or irregularities.
In his remarks to his supporters and members of the press, Perez said that the election records that have been gathered indicate that “the doubt has become a certainty, and fraud is no longer presumed but the truth, which nobody can hide.”
“It is structural fraud that ranges from the ballots through the ballot boxes, to the election packages,” with certain vote tabulations and other records failing to agree with the computer-scanned results, “and then fraud within the computer system comes into play,” he said.
One of the inconsistencies Perez says he and his supporters have detected concerns one of the voting boards in Esmeraldas province, where the number of votes cast ostensibly does not correspond to the number of registered voters there.
More than 13 million Ecuadorians were eligible to vote in the Feb. 7 elections, some 410,000 of them living abroad, to select the country’s president, vice president, 137 members of the National Assembly and five members of the Andean Parliament.
Surrounded by indigenous leaders and marchers who came from southern Ecuador, Perez said that the mobilization was peaceful although one person involved in it had died in a traffic accident.
“The march has not been violent,” he said, referring to the dozens of people who walked from southern Ecuador intending to gather on Wednesday before the CNE offices to demand transparency in the vote count.
Perez said that the fraud he is complaining about was not perpetrated against him per se but rather against the “more than two million Ecuadorians who trusted in this procedure, which is not individual but rather collective.”
And he said that during the march, in which he also participated, he received many expressions of solidarity, affection and “also rage” due to the lack of transparency his supporters say has prevailed in the vote count, although election authorities deny that.
“We’re here with joy (and) celebration and so I am paying respect and tribute to those who came out” from different parts of the country, the indigenous leader said, adding that he would march with his followers to the Attorney General’s Office and the CNE to insist that their complaints be addressed.