Ecuadorians vote for president without violence, but overseas voting system sees cyberattacks

Supporters attend an open-air Mass during the closing campaign rally of the "Movement Construye" party in Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. The upcoming snap election set for Aug. 20 was called after President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the National Assembly by decree in May, to avoid being impeached. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

A voter chooses her candidate in a snap presidential election Sunday in Quito, Ecuador. (AP Photo/Carlos Noriega)

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador — Ecuadorians put aside fears of leaving their homes amid unprecedented violence and voted for a new president Sunday in a special election that was heavily guarded by police and soldiers in part due to the assassination of a presidential candidate this month.

The country’s top electoral authority, Diana Atamaint, reported no violent incidents affected voting centers and characterized the election as “peaceful and safe” after polls closed.


However, Atamaint, president of the National Electoral Council, said the electronic voting system used by Ecuadorians living abroad was targeted by several cyberattacks, including from China, India and Bangladesh. She said the incidents did not jeopardize vote counts.

Authorities deployed more than 100,000 police and soldiers to protect the vote against more violence. Gen. Fausto Salinas, commander general of the National Police, said one person was arrested for false voting, two for harassment and resisting arrest and more than 20 for unlawfully carrying guns.

Voting in Ecuador is mandatory for most voters, and many of them weighed the risk of getting robbed against the fine and inconveniences they could face for not voting.

Ecuadorians were already struggling to make sense of the violent crime their country has experienced over the last three years when presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated Aug. 9 as he left a campaign rally in Quito. His killing heightened people’s fears of spending time anywhere other than their homes and becoming victims of any of the other crimes that have become commonplace.

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