A woman casts her vote at an electoral center in Quito, Ecuador, on Feb. 19, 2017. Ecuadorians went to the polls on Sunday to elect a successor to popular President Rafael Correa, who has been in power for 10 years. (Xinhua/ANDES/Micaela Ayala V.)
QUITO, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Ecuadorians went to the polls on Sunday to elect a successor to popular President Rafael Correa, who has been in power for 10 years.
According to the National Electoral Council (CNE), the turnout was notable, with nearly 40 percent of eligible voters casting their ballots by midday.
"There has been significant participation on this election day," CNE chief Juan Pablo Pozo told reporters in the early afternoon, adding some "39.44 percent of citizens have already gone to the polls, above all peacefully and respecting public order in the country's 24 provinces."
Eight candidates are vying for the top post, though the two leading contenders are Lenin Moreno of the ruling progressive PAIS Alliance, and Guillermo Lasso of the conservative Creating Opportunities (CREO) party, with 40 percent and 20 percent support among the electorate, respectively.
If none of the candidates wins an absolute majority of more than 50 percent, or 40 percent with a 10-point advantage over the runner-up, then a runoff will take place in April.
A rapid count by the CNE is expected to provide unofficial results after 7 p.m. local time. Twelve polling firms registered to carry out exit polls will also be able to release their results around that time.