Long lines of people formed in front of polling stations across much of
Iran Friday, as voters headed out to cast their ballots to choose
between four candidates for president. A strong turnout, according to
some analysts, could work against incumbent Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.
TV urged voters to go to the polls, and it broadcast video of long
lines of men and women standing outside polling stations across the
country. Officials extended voting hours repeatedly.
Old women in wheelchairs, paralyzed war-veterans and
religious leaders wearing turbans were shown waiting in line before
casting their ballots.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei was welcomed by a crowd inside a polling station as he cast
his ballot in front of a gaggle of photographers.
delivered a pep-talk to the audience, after he voted, complaining that
certain parties were trying to disrupt the elections and cause trouble.
says that people will be hurt and damage will be done to the voting
process if there is tension, so he urges everyone to prevent tensions
and conflict. He also urges everyone to show patience and behave with
dignity to fend off those with evil designs for the country.
Minister Sadeq Mahsuli told journalists that election turnout was
"unprecedented" and that he expected around 70 percent of the
population to vote.
Election commission chief Kamran Daneshjou
indicated that 35,000 polling stations across the country were being
monitored directly by his office "online" and noted that voting will be
extended by two hours because of the heavy turnout.
TV reported that many polling stations had run out of paper ballots
during the course of the day, but that they were resupplied by the
Reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi voted
at a polling station south of Tehran, alongside his wife, who predicted
that her husband "will win in the first round of voting, provided there
is no vote-rigging."
Mousavi later complained to a local news
agency that some of his representatives were denied access to certain
polling stations, preventing them from monitoring the vote.
three opponents of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, including
Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohsen Rezaei have called on Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to prevent any tampering with the vote.
a reformist former parliament speaker, told reporters that he was
overjoyed by the heavy turnout as well as by the interest of the
He says that he was told by foreign
journalists that the election turnout is extraordinary and that this
surprised them. It's great that these journalists are covering the
election, he adds, and it indicates what a passionate and enthusiastic
election we are having.
One Iranian voter, who gave his name as
Mahdi Shahbaz, explained why he thought it was important to vote in
this year's election:
He argues that elections are a wonderful
thing for the Iranian people, and notes that many have not voted since
the Iranian Revolution in 1979. But now, he says, they have come to
realize how important elections are.
Iranians are eligible to vote in Friday's election, according to Iran's
Interior Ministry, and official results are expected to be announced
less than 24 hours after polls close Friday evening.