Amid massive turnout of voters in Friday’s elections, Iranian religious minorities and expatriates have also joined their compatriots to cast their ballots.
“We Zoroastrians always, especially today on June 14th that’s a very special day, feel [that] we are part of the elections because we would like to [participate in the election].... We are duty-bound religiously ... to stand shoulder by shoulder alongside our Muslim, Christian, Jewish and other religious minorities to take part in the enthusiastic elections,” Rashid Khorshidian, a Zoroastrian voter said. “When it comes to the destiny of Iran, we should all try to pick the right and most qualified person as the next president so that he would be able to serve Iran,” Ebrahim Saidian, a Jewish voter said. Iranian expatriates in over 90 countries are also voting to choose a new president for their country. Over 850,000 ballot papers have been sent to polling stations overseas. Iranians in the United States can vote at eighteen stations in different states. Election authorities say they are ready to send more ballot papers if needed. Presidential as well as city and rural councils elections officially opened in Iran at 8:00 am local time (0330 GMT) on Friday and are scheduled to remain open for ten hours. The time can be extended if necessary. Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei cast his ballot minutes into the poll. Nearly 50.5 million Iranians are eligible to vote in the June 14 election. More than 1.6 million of those eligible are first-time voters. The president of Iran is elected for a four-year term in a national election. Six candidates, namely President of the Expediency Council’s Center for Strategic Research Hassan Rohani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili, Secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, and former Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Gharazi are running in the presidential election. Over 200,000 candidates are also running for city and rural councils elections.