Oops! Azerbaijan Releases Election Results Before Voting Begins

Azerbaijan's Central Election Commission announced President Ilham Aliyev had been re-elected a full day before voting had even begun. Host Scott Simon considers elections and democracy in Azerbaijan.

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Ilham Aliyev was re-elected president of Azerbaijan this week. In itself, that's not much of a newsflash. He succeeded his father in office 10 years ago. Human rights groups say that he has since suppressed free speech, curtailed dissent, and dominated the official state media; all of which can run up your vote totals. But there was still some surprise this week when Azerbaijan's central election commission announced President Aliyev had been re-elected a full day before voting begun. The commission explained that they had merely been testing a new smartphone app to declare election results, and mistakenly sent out the 2008 totals. But the results they sent out showed this year's candidates. After balloting began the next day, international monitors complained that the election was seriously flawed by intimidation, attacks on journalists, ballot stuffing and miscounts. Now that President Aliyev has been re-elected, I wonder if Azerbaijan election commission will reveal this week's winning lottery numbers, or maybe who'll win the World Series.

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