In Iran, Authorities Admit Voting Discrepancies

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Naturally, voters are going to be even more suspicious that they've admitted this much:

CAIRO — Iran’s most powerful oversight council announced on Monday that the number of votes recorded in 50 cities exceeded the number of eligible voters there by three million, further tarnishing a presidential election that has set off the most sustained challenge to Iran’s leadership in 30 years.

The government continued with a two-track approach in its showdown over the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Even as the powerful Guardian Council acknowledged some irregularities in the June 12 election, it insisted that the overall vote was valid. At the same time, security forces stepped up their threats to treat protesters as criminals seeking to destabilize the country.

A group of as many as a thousand demonstrators at Haft-e-tir Square in central Tehran was quickly overwhelmed Monday by baton-wielding riot police and tear gas shortly after the Revolutionary Guards issued an ominous warning on their Web site saying that protesters would face “revolutionary confrontation.” Opposition leaders said the next move may be civil disobedience or a general strike.

The legitimacy of the vote remains at the core of the dispute. On Monday, the Guardian Council sought to help validate the outcome when it announced there had been discrepancies in 50 cities, which it said involved up to three million votes, not enough to overturn the landslide election margin that the government had announced for Mr. Ahmadinejad. But the recognition of a broad discrepancy between the number of recorded votes and registered voters in some districts only fueled suspicions that the election — and the Guardian Council’s arbitration of it — was unfair.

“I don’t think they actually counted the votes, though that’s hard to prove,” said Ali Ansari, a professor at the Institute of Iranian Studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and one of the authors of a study of the election results issued by Chatham House, a London-based research group.

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