Schiff Says Iranian Election May Have Been Rigged

( Iran just conducted elections over the weekend, but many lawmakers in the United States feel they were rigged from the beginning.

On Sunday, Democratic Representative Adam Schiff from California said the outcome of the elections were “predetermined.” He said the elections had very low turnout, one of the giveaway signs it was predetermined.

He said:

“The outcome was predetermined, but what struck me was the fact that this was I think the lowest turnout in an Iranian presidential election, perhaps in history. Iranians voted with their feet by not showing up at the polls. And millions who did show up at the polls cast white ballots — that is they didn’t check off a candidate for president.”

The Associated Press reported that Ebrahim Raisi was the victor in the weekend presidential election in Iran. He garnered 17.8 million ballots cast for him.

Raisi is a judiciary chief who is very conservative and is seen as a close ally to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran.

This is what led Schiff, the chair of the Intelligence Committee in the House, to say the victory was a “protest vote.” He continued:

“It was a protest vote to say you have essentially stripped us of any choice of a more moderate leader, and instead it’s just ratifying who the Supreme Leader wants.”

President is the highest position served by a civilian in Iran.

The U.S. has sanctioned Raisi in the past. Part of the reason was his involvement in the 1988 mass execution of thousands of political prisoners.

The presidential election over the weekend was more of a formality than an actual election. Most of Raisi’s main competitors were disqualified from being candidates for some reason, leaving Raisi as one of the loan people running.

As a result, many people called for a full boycott of the election, which came to fruition when only 28.9 million of the country’s 59 million eligible voters actually showed up. What’s more, 3.7 million of the people who actually voted voided their own ballots.

That was an extremely high number compared to elections in the past. As The AP reported, only about 1.2 million ballots were voided in the elections of 2012 and 2017. Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, the interior minister of Iran, had no explanation for the high number of ballots that were voided in this year’s election, though.

The Iranian government tried to blame the United States sanctions for the low turnout, as well as the coronavirus pandemic — even as it was very obvious they were not the reasons why the election turned out the way it did.

Activists immediately shot back over the weekend, with Agnes Callamard, the secretary-general of Amnesty International, saying:

“That Ebrahim Raisi has risen the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.”