Videos, images of Iran polling stations show low voter turnout

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Videos and images of polling stations in Iran shared on social media point toward a low voter turnout in Iran’s parliamentary election on Friday.

Iranians voted on Friday in a parliamentary election unlikely to change the Islamic Republic’s troubled relations with the United States, after thousands of candidates were barred from the field in favor of hardliners.

Videos and images from several Iranian cities showed empty polling stations.

Several users online, including BBC Persian presenter Rana Rahimpour, pointed out that Iran’s state TV attributed the same images of voters to several cities in the country in an attempt to hyperbolize voter participation.

The Iranian regime’s violent crackdown on protesters during last November’s anti-government protesters, as well as its belated admission to shooting down a civilian airliner on January 8 after days of denying responsibility, are two key recent events that could be behind a lower-than-usual voter turnout.

Iranian opposition groups, as well as Iranian activists in and out of the country, had called for boycotting the parliamentary election.

Fearing a low voter turnout, Iran’s highest authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iranians to vote in the election, saying on Tuesday that voting is a “religious, national, and revolutionary duty.”

A few hours into the election, state media reported citing authorities that even citizens without a photo ID will be allowed to vote.

Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on Friday that voter turnout will be announced on Saturday. He did not offer an explanation for the delay. In Iran’s previous parliamentary election in 2016, voter turnout was announced shortly after polls were closed.

Persian-language news channel Iran International reported that by 17:00 local time, voter turnout was at 16 percent in the capital Tehran and 25 percent for the whole country.