Biden Administration Allows Iran to Hold Presidential Election Voting in the U.S.

The Biden administration recently permitted Iranian citizens to cast ballots in the Iranian presidential election from temporary polling locations set up in several U.S. hotels, a move that has drawn criticism from many who oppose the Iranian regime.

The Biden administration authorized Iranian regime voting stations across the United States for the election of the president of the Islamic Republic. This resulted in the victory of Masoud Pezeshkian, a heart surgeon, over the former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. Pezeshkian secured 53.3% of the vote, while Jalili received 44.3%.

Many Iranian observers expressed their dissatisfaction on X, claiming that mainstream media outlets had misrepresented the election as a contest between a “reformer” (Pezeshkian) and a “hardliner” (Jalili).

Kaveh Shahrooz, an Iranian-Canadian expert on Iran’s regime, called for a “two-front battle” to dispel the notion that Pezeshkian is a reformer and to unite the Iranian opposition against the regime in Tehran.

“But now, with the selection of a ‘reformist’ president, they will revive their lies about the Iranian regime’s capacity for change,” wrote Shahrooz.

The largely symbolic presidential position is ultimately controlled by the unelected Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ali Khamenei, who holds the final authority on domestic and foreign policies. Khamenei decides who is eligible to run for president. This has led many Iranians to refer to the process as a “selection” rather than a true election.

The first round of voting, which took place last Friday, witnessed the lowest voter turnout since the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution established a theocratic state. The Iranian regime’s Interior Ministry reported that yesterday’s election saw over 30 million votes cast. The alleged turnout of 50% in the runoff election was higher than the first round (40%) on June 2, but still below historical levels. Eyewitness accounts and videos documented empty polling stations in Iran.

Lisa Daftari, a prominent Iranian-American expert on the Islamic Republic and editor-in-chief of the Foreign Desk, expressed her belief that the U.S. should not have facilitated the voting process.

“The Biden administration’s decision to allow the regime to extend its influence onto U.S. soil is deeply troubling,” Daftari said. “The Islamic Republic has a history of violence against Americans and continues to hold American citizens hostage. It’s perplexing why any administration would grant access to such a rogue and murderous regime.”

Daftari described it as “ironic” that Iran appeared to target voters in the United States due to a lack of voter turnout within its own borders.

“Many Iranians refused to legitimize the regime by voting, yet Washington permitted this regime to establish polling stations on American soil,” she said. “This decision raises serious questions about past and present foreign policy strategies of the current administration, particularly in emboldening the regime in Iran.”

When asked about the criticism surrounding the holding of elections for the clerical regime on American soil, a U.S. State Department spokesperson directed Digital to Principal Deputy Spokesperson Patel.

“In this context, foreign governments carrying out election-related activities in the U.S., they need to do so in a manner that is consistent with U.S. law and regulation,” Patel said. “We respect the rights of Iranian citizens and the diaspora protesting Iran’s elections or choosing to participate in Iran’s elections. And I will also just note that the Iranians have conducted this kind of activity in the United States before, so this is nothing new, and as have a number of other governments, especially in the time that I have worked here as well.”

Patel stated that the U.S. does not consider the Iranian elections to be free or fair, and does not expect them to “lead to a fundamental change in Iran’s direction or lead the Iranian regime to offer more respect for human rights and more dignity for its citizens.”

Digital learned that at a polling location at a hotel in Lynnwood, Washington, on June 28, a security guard allegedly assaulted an Iranian-American who had objected to the election.

According to the police report obtained by Digital, a hotel security guard “grabbed her arm and attempted to seize her phone.” The police officer reviewed a video of the confrontation and noted he that “did not observe” the security guard issuing the Iranian-American a warning that her phone would be seized before his attempt to take it.

A Lynwood police official said the criminal complaint was forwarded to the prosecutor’s office for review.

The Iranian-American woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Digital she was stunned to learn that the regime was collecting votes just a few miles from her home.

“I left Iran about two decades ago, leaving behind my family, my friends, my hometown, the neighborhood I grew up in, all because I could not live under a regime that told me what to wear, what to say, what to do, what to see and what to unsee … a regime that would kill and torture its own people to suppress any opposing voice,” she said. “So when I learned that there will be a voting station for the regime who kills, rapes and tortures my brothers and sisters, in my home state, I was shocked.”

Digital left repeated messages for the hotel manager and the security guard, but none was returned.

Digital confirmed on Friday that the run-off vote had not taken place at the Lynwood hotel, but had been relocated to another Seattle-area hotel.

After Iranian-Americans and Iranian-Canadians showed up at the second hotel to protest on Friday, the manager canceled the vote.

Iran’s regime announced the polling locations through its representative in the U.S., the Pakistani embassy in Washington D.C. A that lists the voting locations in more than 30 U.S. cities. The information about voting was released on each Friday, ostensibly to prevent organized demonstrations against the Iranian regime election.

Video footage and photographs showed protests against the polling stations in Massachusetts, Arizona, California and Washington.

According to a , voting took place in the first round at hotels and various other properties in Nebraska, New York, California, Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, Arizona, Chicago, Illinois and Kansas.