UPDATE - Voting in Iran’s snap presidential election extended for third time

UPDATE - Voting in Iran’s snap presidential election extended for third time

The 10-hour voting process set to end at 6:00 p.m. local time was extended thrice

UPDATES WITH EXTENSION OF VOTING TIME

By Syed Zafar Mehdi

TEHRAN, Iran (AA) - Voting in Iran's snap presidential election has been extended by another two hours until 12 a.m. local time (08:30 GMT), the country’s election headquarters announced.

This marks the third and final two-hour extension before the voting lines close and the counting of ballots begins.

Polling began at 8 a.m. local time on Friday and was supposed to end at 6 p.m., in line with the constitutional norm of a 10-hour voting period.

However, the Interior Ministry, which supervises the election, extended the voting three times to allow more people to cast their ballots.

Four candidates – Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Saeed Jalili, Masoud Pezeshkian, and Mostafa Pourmohammadi – are vying for the presidency of the Islamic Republic following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month.

An estimated 64 million people in Iran are eligible to vote in this election, the majority of whom are young people. In the 2021 presidential election, 59.3 million people were eligible to vote.

A total of 58,640 polling stations were set up across the country to facilitate the voting process, more than 6,000 of which in Tehran.

Outside the country, the Foreign Ministry designated 344 polling stations for overseas Iranians to exercise their franchise, except for Canada, which did not allow it.

Voter turnout is likely to be higher this time than in the presidential election of 2021, as people formed long queues in front of polling stations in Tehran and other cities across the country.

The 2021 election, when Raisi won by a landslide, witnessed record low voter turnout at 49%.

The final results are expected to be announced on Saturday afternoon, according to officials, but the counting of votes will start immediately after the polls close at midnight.

Three of the four candidates – conservatives Qalibaf and Jalili, and reformist Pezeshkian – are locked in a tight contest, according to independent observers, with a high likelihood of the election going to a run-off.

If none of the four hopefuls secure more than 50% of the vote, the second round will be held on July 5, when the two candidates with the highest number of votes will face each other.

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