Monday, June 22, 2009

Iranian Election Crackdown: Voting irregularities point to Ballot Box Stuffing

Tammany Hall. William M. “Boss” Tweed. These are the names associated with machine politics, voter fraud, and ballot box stuffing in the United States. According to reports coming out of Iran’s Guardian Council, which oversees elections, that “the number of ballots cast in dozens of cities exceeded the number of eligible voters there”. When I read this, the scene that came to mind is where Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis, in the 2002 movie Gangs of New York, are trying to get their voters to the polls by whatever means necessary in the New York City elections.

They got their respective “organizations” to round up any warm body, and get them to the polls. Men with beards and long hair voted early, came back and got a shave and voted again, and then came back and got a haircut and voted for a third time. As the counts were coming in the most memorable line from that scene came from “Boss” Tweed, played by British actor Jim Broadbent. As the numbers are coming in, a staffer states the number of votes are exceeding the number of registered voters. What do they do? “Boss” Tweed says “Whoever has the most votes at the end of the day, wins!”

Most elections observers around the world thought something didn’t sound right when they called the election within a day in Iran. So what? They do that here in the United States, and within a few hours of the polls closing. The problem with calling the election for a winner in Iran… they vote by paper ballots that have to be hand counted. This takes a while to do.

It was reported that it would take at least three days before there was any indication of a winner. Iranian Government officials called this thing about as fast as the major news outlets do here in the United States. This is the spark that started the protests in the streets. With this latest revelation, it will be much harder for the Iranian Government to continue to certify the election and not throw out the results of the entire election. I expect there will be increased calls for a new election and if not, expect more protest and violent clashes with government authorities.

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