Election Day: Iranian Citizens’ Street Observations
While the polls were open in Iran, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran spoke to four voters about their votes, the state of the polling stations, and their expectations for the election.
A computer engineer told the Campaign, “If we skip the 2009 comparison, the polling stations are crowded. I mean, I really didn’t believe that so many people would participate this year. Of course, I only saw the polling stations in the central and northern neighborhoods of Tehran. I had gone to Hosseinieh Ershad with my father to vote, but it was very crowded, so we went to a kindergarten that was another polling station nearby. We waited in line for an hour there before we could vote.”
The 45-year-old engineer told the Campaign that many people who were standing in lines to vote were wearing green clothing. “Unlike four years ago, IRIB [the state broadcasting organization], showed as many green-wearing people as they could! But people were very concerned that their votes would not be counted again. Their tone was one of fear of fraud. I don’t believe fraud is out of the question, but I think that cheating during this election will be difficult for various reasons, and the regime does not consider it economical to pay a price for eliminating someone like Rowhani who has always had a cooperative view to the power centers,” he told the Campaign.
“Nowadays people pay attention to an individual who will focus on their rights, someone who will pay attention to their economic situation, who will increase their security and respect, and who will reduce the fear of a war with the US and Israel. We are now afraid that any moment Israel will throw bombs and missiles at Iran,” he added.
A bank employee told the Campaign that the polling stations were a lot more crowded than four years ago. “I dropped in on five polling stations at Sa’adat Abad’s Kaj Square, a polling station in Vanak Square, a school on Enghelab Avenue, and a school on Villa Avenue. It’s interesting that most analysts were fighting over Rowhani and Jalili over the past days, but standing in lines, people were talking about Qalibaf and Rezaei. Nobody is paying attention to the reformist or principleist thinking. Many blame Jalili for the sanctions, especially after his third debate. They are tired of Khatami’s politics, too. Right now, people are looking for someone to solve their economic problems a little,” he said.
“I am tired. I want someone to come, talk the Supreme Leader into negotiating with the US, end the sanctions, and end the high prices. How long can we continue to live under these high prices?” said the bank employee.
A theater actress told the Campaign, “I went to a polling station at Takht-e-Tavoos avenue with three of my other friends. All of us voted for Rowhani. It was not crowded, but people were acting funny. They were whispering and staring at the ballot boxes, as if there was something wrong with the ballot boxes! One person tried to pick up the ballot box to make sure there was no hole under it! We were laughing and joking in hushed voices. Me and my three friends were staring at the police officers there, meaning to ask, ‘Are you going to cheat again, dudes?!'”
Asked whether she expected election fraud again this time, the actress said, “Well, nothing is impossible here, but it didn’t stink like fraud. I hope we don’t find out we were fools in a few hours!”
A Tehran high school teacher told the Campaign, “In the polling stations there was about half of the crowd we saw four years ago. At least in the central Tehran polling stations that I went to, there was not the crowd that there was four years ago. There were some unmotivated youth there, too, who did not believe in any of the candidates. They said they had come to laugh and be together, and to vote for Gharazi.”