2 + 2 = 24 million

2 + 2 = 24 million

I see that a number of people are still throwing up their hands, unsure if the Iranian election was really fraudulent.

Give me a break, folks. It’s true that Ahmadinejad is popular. But he’s just not that popular. There’s no need to throw up our hands and say, "Aw shucks, it’s all too complicated and we’ll never know if he really got 24 million votes." This was fraud on a massive scale.

The Guardian is now reporting that many towns in Iran reported turnout figures in excess of their population:

In the most specific allegations of rigging yet to emerge, the centrist Ayandeh website – which stayed neutral during the campaign – reported that 26 provinces across the country showed participation figures so high they were either hitherto unheard of in democratic elections or in excess of the number of registered electors.

Taft, a town in the central province of Yazd, had a turnout of 141%, the site said, quoting an unnamed "political expert". Kouhrang, in Chahar Mahaal Bakhtiari province, recorded a 132% turnout while Chadegan, in Isfahan province, had 120%.

Ayandeh’s source said at least 200 polling stations across Iran recorded participation rates of 95% or above. "This is generally considered scientifically impossible because out of every given cohort of 20 voters, there will be at least one who is either ill, out of the country, has recently died or is unable to participate for some other reasons," the source said. "It is also unprecedented in the history of Iran and all other democratic countries."

The claims are impossible to verify, but they are consistent with comments made by a former Iranian interior minister, Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, who said on Tuesday that 70 polling stations returned more completed ballot papers than the number of locally eligible voters.

But even if we can’t verify such reports, common sense ought to suffice to persuade us that Ahmadinejad and co. cheated. As one Iranian intellectual put it, "A president that has received 24 million votes doesn’t need to imprison hundreds of people and cut all lines of communication."

Most Iranians seem to grasp this point intuitively. Hooman Majd, an Iranian-American journalist and author of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, explained at an event yesterday why the rigging has Iranians so upset. "The vote is the one thing Iranians still had," he said, saying that presidential elections — within the parameters set by the Guardian Council — had generally been considered fair until now. "There’s a rage that comes from that."