Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was among the first to cast a ballot in the June 14 presidential election, held to vote in a successor to President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who won a second term in a controversy-marred poll in 2009.
Khamenei, as expected, did not say publicly who he chose among the six presidential hopefuls approved by the hard-line Guardians Council.
He said no one was aware of his vote, "Not even my close friends and relatives."
Some analysts speculated going into the election that Khamenei's preferred candidate was Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Said Jalili, who is considered the most hard-line of the six and who closely mirrored the rhetoric and stances of the supreme leader during his campaign.
The ballot box in which the Iranian leader cast his ballot was reported to be box No. 110. For that reason, the votes of that particular box were the first to be counted, a deputy to Tehran's governorate, Said Ahmadi Shahraki, was quoted as saying
by the semi-official Mehr news agency.
Later, a Guardians Council monitor, Effat Manesh, was quoted by a website associated with state-controlled television as saying that Jalili received 200 of the votes held in box No. 110. Next was Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, with 124 votes. "Other candidates" received fewer than 20 votes, she was quoted as saying.
The news item, which understandably caught a lot of attention on social media, was later removed
from the Iranian news sites that published it.
"Persian Letters," however, kept a screen grab.
-- Golnaz Esfandiari