Almost 40 million voters turned out for Friday’s election in Iran. The outstanding 85 percent voter turnout was praised by the current Iranian president, who, imagine that, just happened to be the victor as well. Is it so clear cut? Let’s see.
As of 2007, there are 70 million people in Iran. To try and figure out the eligible voter number, we have to dig deeper. According to the CIA factbook, over 14 million are under the age of 14. Looking at other age distribution maps, the number of 15-17 year olds is probably in the neighborhood of 5 million or so. This works us backwards to about 51 million eligible voters, close to the 47 million that an 85% turnout points us toward.
Summarizing the above – 40 million voters, 47 million eligible, 19 million under 18. Continuing…
If you’ve made it this far, here’s the confusing part. In 2007, the minimum age for eligible voters was raised from 15 to 18 years. This immediately took somewhere around 5 million eligible voters out of the voting pool.
In the 2005 election, there was a turnout of 62% for a total of 29 million votes (also magically based on 47 million eligible voters). Of these, Ahmadinejad only got 5 million in the first round, coming in second place, and then 17 million in the second round, becoming president. Take away the 5 million voters under 18 in that election who wouldn’t be eligible this time, and you have a voter turnout of 24 million people.
So. In 4 years time, the people of Iran somehow became so motivated that almost twice as many people over the age of 18 came out to vote. And they voted for the incumbent?
Ahmadinejad beat his 2005 first round total by 4 to 1! And 7 million more than his second round when he ran against one challenger.
And here I thought voter turnout was only supposed to be high when the people wanted a change.