TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian voters have been choosing today from among five hard-line presidential candidates and the one moderate around whom reformers have rallied.
There were long lines outside some voting stations in Tehran and elsewhere, and Iranian officials extended the voting time by four hours.
There's been no clear front-runner among the six candidates. They are trying to succeed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (ah-muh-DEE'-neh-zhahd), who has served for eight years but isn't allowed to run for a third consecutive term. If no candidate wins a majority, there will be a runoff between the top two finishers in a week.
The enthusiasm shown by voters today suggested that an election that had once been seen as a pre-engineered victory for Iran's ruling establishment had become a chance for reform-minded voters to express themselves.
Iran's loose coalition of liberals, reformists and opposition activists are backing former nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani, the only relative moderate left in the race.
One university student voting in Tehran said that both he and his mother had voted for Rowhani. A journalist in a Persian Gulf city said many polling stations had long lines, with many voters appearing to back Rowhani.
But there was also strong support for other presumed leading candidates. A taxi driver in Tehran who voted for one hardliner said, "We should resist the West."
156-a-16-(Meir Javedanfar (may-EER' jah-ved-AHN'-far), Iranian-Israeli Middle East analyst, in AP interview)-"its nuclear program"-Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Middle East analyst in Jerusalem, says Israelis should root for either of two candidates and if the moderate in the field is not a winner, a candidate who is unloved by Iran's military would be a second choice. (14 Jun 2013)
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135-r-09-(Sound of men and women moving into a polling place en masse, at Tehran polling place)--Sound of men and women walking with moderate candidate Hasan Rowhani into a polling place south of Tehran as the candidate prepares to vote. (14 Jun 2013)
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134-r-12-(Sound of men shouting and jostling in a crowd, at Tehran polling place)--Sound of men shouting and jostling in a crowd at a polling place as Tehran's mayor - a presidential candidate - cast his ballot among photographers and other voters. (14 Jun 2013)
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GRAPHICSBANK: Ballot boxes for the Iran elwections, graphic element on gray (14 Jun 2013)
APPHOTO BKM104: Iranian citizens wait to get ballots for the Iranian presidential election at a polling station inside the Sadr Mosque in the Kazimiyah district of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, June 14, 2013. Iranian voters appeared to heed calls to cast ballots Friday in a presidential election that has suddenly become a showdown across Iran's political divide: Hard-liners looking to cement their control and re-energized reformists backing the lone moderate left in the race. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed) (14 Jun 2013)
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APPHOTO VAH117: In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian supreme leader's office, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his ballot in the presidential election without publicly endorsing a candidate, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, June 14, 2013. On Friday, Khamenei delivered a salty rebuke to U.S. questions over the openness of the presidential contest , telling Washington "the hell with you" after casting his ballot in a race widely criticized in the West as pre-rigged in favor of Tehran's ruling system. (AP Photo/Office of the Supreme Leader) (14 Jun 2013)
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