Iranians voted on Friday in a presidential election dominated by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's hard-line apprentice. This is following the disqualification of his strongest competition, giving him the utmost advantage. This also ignites apathy that left a number of polling places largely desolated notwithstanding pleas to support the Islamic Republic at the ballot box.

Opinion polling by state-linked organizations, alongside analysts, stated that judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi was the frontrunner in a field of only four candidates. He is currently under US sanctions.

Low Turnout, Lack of Rivals

The presidential election was marked by a low turnout and a lack of formidable opponents to the candidacy of Iran's ultraconservative Raisi. There were no official estimates of the turnout from the Iran Interior Ministry as polling stations closed at 2 in the morning on Saturday local time, reported VOA.

Voting has been extended for two hours in a number of polling centers. According to the interior ministry in a statement, polling centers are obligated to accept ballots so long as there are citizens at polling stations. Over 59 million Iranian citizens are qualified to vote in the country of 80 million people. However, with boycott calls, turnout will be a critical issue in this year's presidential election, reported France 24.

Nearly all of the hard-line judge's challengers were disqualified. Ultraconservative cleric Raisi, an apprentice of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was expected to coast to victory in the midst of opposition calls for a boycott and low turnout.

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Raisi Emerges as Winner

Raisi emerged as the winner of Friday's presidential election after the three other candidates conceded prior to the completion of the counting of votes. Former central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati, regarded as Raisi's strongest rival, issued a letter congratulating him on Saturday.

Raisi won the country's presidential election with 62% of the votes, as indicated by preliminary results released by the national electoral commission on Saturday. He benefited from the disqualification of the most vigorous competitors who could have challenged him in this year's election, reported Euronews.

Almost 60 million qualified voters cast their ballots in Friday's presidential election. Anger over economic difficulties and curbs on freedoms mean several will heed calls for a boycott.

The Guardian Council is a 12-member constitutional vetting body under Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei that barred candidates including reformists and those associated with Rouhani.

Evening came and turnout appeared much lower than in Iran's last 2017 presidential election. At a polling place inside a mosque in central Tehran, a Shiite cleric played soccer with a young boy as most of its workers slept in a courtyard.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency previously reported that 37% of the nation's 59 million qualified voters had voted by 7:30 PM  local time. No confirmation of that tally was released from the Interior Ministry, which was overseeing the presidential election.

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