QUITO, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Ecuadorians began voting Sunday in elections which incumbant President Rafael Correa is tipped to win easily.
Some 11.6 million Ecuadorian voters began casting their ballots at 7 a.m. Sunday (1200 GMT) to elect the country's president, 137 National Assembly members and five representatives to the regional Andean Parliament.
About 40,390 polling stations are open countrywide and abroad. More than 76,161 military and police officers were on hand to keep peace.
According to latest polls, Correa enjoys a whopping 80-percent approval rating, comfortably ahead of his seven rivals, including a former banker, a former president and a banana magnate, who is also Ecuador's richest man.
A left-wing populist, Correa is expected to lead his nearest rival by more than 35 percentage points. He has ruled since 2007.
To avoid a run-off, Correa needs a simple majority or 40 percent of the vote with a lead of 10 percentage points over the second-place finisher.
"The beauty of an electoral democracy is that citizens have their future in their hands. So it's time to vote," Correa said after voting in northern Quito soon after polls opened.
Voting is scheduled to end at 5 p.m. (2200 GMT) and preliminary results of the presidential race are expected late in the day.
Ecuadoreans also vote for a new legislature Sunday, though the results will not be available for several days. Correa's Alianza Pais party is hoping to increase its vote from 42 percent at the previous election to more than 50 percent.