Monday, February 12, 2018

Alcohol Free Ecuador Elections - Voting Weekend Prohibition

"The biggest danger for a politician is to shake hands with a man who is physically stronger, has been drinking, and is voting for the other guy." 
-- William Proxmire

Do you celebrate election night victories with a cocktail? Or drown your election losses with a few beers once the polls close? These are illegal activities in Ecuador. There is little chance of the quote above happening on election weekend.

You can, however, have the beach almost all to yourself.

Puerto Lopez beach

Voting in Ecuador is compulsory for citizens between 18 and 65 years old. If you do not vote, you must pay a fine prior to registering a vehicle, opening a bank account, buying or selling property, and a whole host of other activities.

Alcohol is prohibited in the days surrounding election day. If you arrive at the polls in Ecuador drunk, you face a $193 fine, 1/2 the monthly minimum wage.

Sunday, February 4, 2018 was a national election day. Alcohol sales were prohibited from Noon Friday until Noon Monday. It is not only illegal to purchase alcohol, it is also illegal to consume alcohol during this time.

I was at the Quito airport during the 2018 election prohibition and even the restaurants there were unable to sell alcohol to travelers.

Sign at Johnny Rockets, Quito Airport
February 2, 2018

Quiet beach weekend 

January - April weekends in Ecuador beach towns are almost always busy. It is the best weather of the year. People who work inland come to the ocean for weekend getaways. Election weekend is different. Everyone stays home since they have to be at their local voting booth on Sunday so election weekend is very quiet.

Tourists from other countries can usually find a hotel bar in coastal tourist towns willing to sell alcohol to foreigners. The local police usually ignore the sales since the people drinking are not part of the Ecuador electorate.

If you visit Ecuador during an election weekend and wish to imbibe, my advice to you is to do one of the following:
  1. Purchase ahead and do not invite the police to your party.
  2. Head to a beach town known for tourism. You are sure to find a hotel bar serving foreigners. 
  3. Look for a small, neighborhood store. I have heard some of them sell alcohol during election prohibition.

Or you can choose to enjoy an alcohol free fruity drink on the empty beach.

Fruity drink on Puerto Lopez beach


  1. Greetings from icy Minnesota. This is really interesting. Your fruity non-alcoholic drink looks awesome!

    1. Hi Heather from my home state! The fruity drink was delicious. Thanks for visiting and commenting!