A day after the national elections for the ninth Iranian Majlis, Iranian officials and the country’s official media are trying hard to show that the participation of the public at the ballot boxes was of “epical” proportions and “beyond expectations.” Opponents and critics of the Islamic republic on the other hand believe that the figures that regime agencies are providing are not reliable at all.
Just two days prior to the elections, the leader of the Islamic regime declared through a public speech, “What I see is that on this Friday people will strike an even harder slap on arrogance,” a term commonly used for the United States. On the day of election too he asked the public, as he was casting his vote, to give a punch on the mouth of “arrogance” by participating at Friday’s voting.
Just a few hours into the voting, Iranian officials responsible or involved in the elections began approving and confirming ayatollah Khamenei’s “predictions” about the level of public participation in the voting. Three hours after voting boots opened the spokesperson for the powerful Guardians Council that is constitutionally responsible for planning and implementing national elections, Abbas-Ali Kadkhodai claimed that people’s participation had been 9 percent higher than the previous elections to the Majlis.
Another senior Guardians Council member, ayatollah Ahmad Janati said a day after the voting, “As predicted by the supreme leader, people participated in this election in high numbers and better than previous rounds.”
The 65 percent turnout that was officially announced magically meets the exact same percent that Ali Saeedi, the representative of the leader in the Revolutionary Guards force had predicted two months ago!
In related news, Raja News state news agency replayed a speech that ayatollah Khamenei had made in 2009 in which he had predicted that in two or three years time people would participate in the elections in huge numbers, and the news agency called the speech “a divine and a miraculous prediction.”
Other officials of the Islamic republic also made public statements to portray the Friday voting as an event in which an unexpected large number of people voted for the officially screened candidates.
But already, with some 24 hours since the closing of the voting boots, contradictory figures have emerged on the event. One social network presented official statistics and said that there were 49,158,000 people in the country based on the 2006 census between the ages of 15 and 64 and that there were 3,657,000 people over the age of 65. So the total sum of eligible voters above the age of 15 is 52,815,000 people. This figures however matches the number of over-20-year people in Iran in 2011, i.e., despite the passage of 5 years since the 2006 census and figures. This means that despite the passage of 5 years and the deaths that have occurred during the period, Iran’s over-20-year population has remained the same. But new 18 and 19 year olds must be added to this number for 2011 based on population growth rates in 1992 and 1993, which is about 1.4 million per year (a total of 2.8 million). When we add this 2.8 million to the 52,815,000 number we get 66,615,000 (total number of people above 18 years of age in 2011).
When we deduct deaths, averaging about 370,000 per year between 2006 and 2011, we get a total number of 1.970,000 deaths for the period. Take into account the high rate of immigration from Iran, which stands at about 550,000 people during this 5 year period, and we get the figure of 2,520,000 people which should be deducted from the total number of people in 2011. So 55,615,000 minus 2,520,000 and we get 53,093.000 people above the age of 18 who are eligible to vote. But as is clear, officials are reducing the number of eligible voters with the purpose of changing the proportion of voters.
Another discrepancy is what two official news agencies, Mehr and Fars have reported. Mehr reported that in the province of Ilam a 76 percent turnout was reported, while Fars reported an 87 percent turnout.
The head of the elections committee at the ministry of interior said in Tehran about 40 percent of the franchise voted whereas the minister claimed a 51 percent participation rate.
In some voting precincts, officials reported more than a 100 percent public participation in the voting. Some of the districts where such figures were presented are districts where no increases in voting numbers have ever been reported.
Another issue that the ministry of interior has only published the number of voters, and not the disqualified or invalidated ballot boxes that have been reported otherwise.
Some of the photographs that official media has published too do not show a massive turnout and in fact are empty or with few voters. Eye witnesses have confirmed the small participation in many voting precincts.
Other observers or those with such resources have also said that the number of participants in the elections are routinely and grossly exaggerated by Iranian officials. One example is the British foreign minister who said that Majlis elections in Iran are not “free or fair” and that such exercises are used to gauge the level of support the regime enjoys rather than counting votes for Majlis representatives.
Reporters Without Borders wrote that the Iranian regime has not allowed foreign reporters to go to the precincts in Tehran and freely cover the elections.
Of the few that managed to be allowed to go to Iran, CNN’s Ivan Watson reported from Tehran that foreign reporters were bused to selected polling stations and were not allowed to freely move about the streets and other voting precincts, adding that he had not seen the crowds that were reported in the Iranian media.