Bringing Voting to the 21st Century

When we were visiting the civil registration office in centralQuito, I didn’t understand why it took so long to get Grace’s paperwork.  Later, I discovered that the country was getting their citizens ready for their annual election with the use of new technology.  Just as drivers’ licenses, passports and other identification documents have become digitalized, so have the Ecuadorian registration papers. 

When we were in the office, there were many Ecuadorian citizens there getting their registration cards redone, so that they would contain the digitalized image that could be scanned into a machine.  Although everyone got sick in the process of getting Grace’s papers done, I’m glad that we completed that process in early April.  If not, we would have been stuck in line with all the people trying to get their registration I.D. done before the elections.

Ecuadorians are required to vote or pay a fine.  For a while, it was understood that all Ecuadorian citizens needed the new digital registration card in order to vote this year. However, my nanny told me that she didn’t have time to go get her registration card done and thought she could vote with the old card.  The nurse who was checking on Grace said the same thing.

Fortunately for them, they were able to use their old cards.  On May 14, all citizens of the country got to vote on changes being made inEcuador’s Constitution.  By the end of the election process, the “yes” votes once.

As for me, I won’t worry about the vote outcome.  I’ll just take my two registration cards fromEcuador.  Luke’s card has the old non-digital card and Grace has the new one.  And that’s the way it is going to stay for a while.

An Election of Reflection

Three years ago, I presented the idea of creating a mock election at the Alliance Academy that would allow all middle school and high school students to participate.  It wasn’t a difficult activity to set up.  After all, the U.S. Government teacher was already doing this in his classes.  However, his class is exclusively offered to the seniors at Alliance Academy and they participate in the mock election for a class grade.  Therefore, all I needed to do was create a voter registration format and election process that would allow all secondary students to vote on the candidates being chosen in the 12th grade government classes.  That first year, we were able to host the mock election on the same day as the U.S. elections were taking place in the U.S.

For the past two years, however, the Ecuadorian holidays at the beginning of November landed on the same day as the election.  As I watch for the election results tonight, I’ll also be preparing the final details for our mock election to take place on Friday of this week. 

To give students a better feel of the election process, I began a voter registration drive at the beginning of September.  My civics club members were in charge of asking their fellow classmates if they had registered to vote and then giving them voter registration application forms to help them become ‘registered voters.’ By the end of October, we had more than 90% of the student body registered to vote.

My seventh and eighth grade civic club members

This coming Thursday, November 4, the 12th grade students will congregate in the school’s chapel to participate in a final press conference/presidential debate.  The U.S. Government class is split into two separate periods.  Each period has selected republican and democratic candidates and one class selected independent candidates, as well.  My journalism class will participate as members of the press to ‘grill’ each candidate on the issues facing U.S. citizens today.

My high school (9th-12th grade) civic club members.

All other secondary classes have been invited to come to the chapel during that time to listen to the debates in order to help them decide who to vote for

The following day, November 5, a special assembly will bring all secondary students together in the high school gymnasium to give each presidential and vice-presidential candidate the chance to express themselves one last times before the students (who are registered voters) ‘go to the polls.’

After they place their ballots in their ‘district’ (voting by grade level), I will have the privilege of counting up the votes and figuring out which candidates won in each of the two government classes. It will be interesting to compare the actual results after tonight with the voting patterns of the students at this school.

Student put up campaign posters in the locker area to promote their parties.

Ecuadorians Cast Their Vote

 Last fall, Ecuadorian citizens were required to come out and vote on a new Constitution that President Correa was trying to get implemented into the government.  This new constitution won the “yes” vote and was made the official constitution of Ecuador.  Some of the new laws were put into motion right away.

Others however took a while to be put into practical use.  One regulation was put into use this past April when all Ecuadorian citizens were once again required to come out and vote.  This time they were voting for the Ecuadorian president and other such leadership.  Under the new constitution, the voting age had been lowered to sixteen.  The only difference between the 16-17 age group and the 18-65 group was that the younger group could vote on a voluntary basis.  All older citizens are required to vote (or pay a fine). 

The election took place on April 26th and the current president, Correa was re-elected to his position.  The Ecuadorian people also voted for a vice-president, 124 members of the national legislative assembly, 221 mayors, 24 prefects and 1581 municipal officials.  All these choices were further complicated by the fact that there are over 20 different political parties to choose from when voting for different candidates.

The National Alliance party (PAIS) won 61 of 124 seats in the national legislative assembly or congress, becoming the majority party.  It was also recorded that slightly over half a million 16 and 17 year olds decided to come out and vote. Some of our students at the Alliance Academy also participated.  It was quite interesting to see the impact that this election had on our students who are nationals.