Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ley Seca

Over the weekend, Ecuador had a voting day.  "Woo hoo!" I'm sure you're thinking, "Just what I wanted to read about: more politics!"  And I feel you, okay?  But as much as politics can be painful, it can also be crazily entertaining. 

On Saturday, while the citizens of Ecuador were legally required to vote (more on that later), I headed to the beach while everyone else headed to the polls.  (It doesn't seem fair, does it?  Then again, I might have to choose between Donald Trump and Obama soon.  Them's the breaks).  Here, polling places are decided by your canton and your last name.  Therefore, if you live in Los Ceibos and your name starts with S then you vote in a different place than your neighbor whose last name starts with C.  At your voting place, everyone lines up and the glorious buggies, bikes, and carts of merchants line up next to you to wait out the heat and the voting process.  When it's your turn to vote, you receive a giant ballot form (about the size of a place mat in case you are blind, according to my voting friends) and you vote.  If you don't want to vote, then you scribble through the whole ballot and turn it back in.  When you finish, you get a certificate to prove you've voted.  This is how they determine if everyone has voted.  Typically, within the next week, if you want to perform certain functions, like going to the bank, then you have to show your voting certificate.  If you haven't voted, then you're out of luck.  Within a few days, the votes will be tallied, and it's all over.

The reason this post is titled "Ley Seca" is because part of the voting laws require that the country remains alcohol-free during the voting period.  No doubt it's a good law to have in place if you require everyone to vote, but it's also like when you tell a child not to put that rock in their nose.  The next thing you know, the kid has the rock in their nose.  In the case of ley seca, I'm not normally a person who drinks more than once a month, but as soon as the law is enacted, I've got to go out and buy a bottle of wine.  I might not even drink it then, but I have to have it just in case.  All of which makes me wonder, "do the dry laws actually encourage more drinking?"

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