Iranian-Americans and expatriates vote in election

An Image showing people casting their votes during Iran’s 10th presidential election, June 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Iranian-Americans and expatriates will go to special polls across the United States on Friday to vote in Iran’s presidential election.

During Iran’s 2009 election, record numbers of Iranians voted in 41 locations throughout the U.S. This year, there are half as many voting locations, and turnout is expected to be lower.

Some analysts attribute the expected drop to the controversy surrounding Iran’s election four years ago, when droves of Iranians took to the streets in support of the reformist candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and protested President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

Large numbers of young people protested in major cities, some carrying signs that read “Where is my vote?” Clashes erupted between activists and police that turned increasingly violent.

“Both in the diaspora and in Iran itself, people lost confidence in the worth of their vote,” said Reza Aslan, adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

This year, there are six candidates running: Hashem Rowhani, Mohsen Rezai, Saeed Jalili, Mohammad Gharazi, Mohammad Qalibaf and Ali Akbar Velayati.

U.S. Census figures show about 414,000 Iranians live in the US. California has the most and the state will have six of the 20 polling places around the country. Besides the Los Angeles area, San Diego and San Francisco, cities where balloting will be held include New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Anyone with a valid Iranian passport can vote at the polling locations, most of which are held in hotels and mosques and are run by volunteers. Locations of polling places were announced on Thursday by the Islamic Interests Sections of the Islamic of Iran.

Voting sites continue to change on the eve of the election. Early Thursday, two Los Angeles stations were listed on Iran’s election website, but one was quickly removed. Iran election officials said the location of the second polling place would not be known until election day.

By The Associated Press


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