Polls open in Ecuador general election

Polls opened Sunday in Ecuador's general election, in which President Rafael Correa is the overwhelming favorite to win re-election and possibly a majority in Congress.

Balloting began throughout the South American country at 7:00 am (1200 GMT) and will end at 5:00 pm (2200 GMT), with 76,200 soldiers and police providing security, the interior ministry said.

Three private polls show Correa, who first came to power in 2007, with between 48.2 and 61.5 percent support, far ahead of his nearest rival, banker Guillermo Lasso.

That would enable the charismatic US-educated economist to win another four year term in the first round of voting, and possibly pick up a majority in Ecuador's Congress.

Voting is obligatory for people age 18 to 65, and optional for youths 16 years and older, and for people over 65.