Iranians are voting on Friday to replace the late President Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a May helicopter crash in the country’s northwest along with the foreign minister and several other officials.

Analysts broadly describe the race as a three-way contest. There are two hard-liners, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and the parliament speaker, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf. Then there’s the reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian, who has aligned himself with those seeking a return to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

And while 85-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has final say on all matters of state, presidents can bend Iran toward confrontation or negotiations with the West.

Currently:

— As Iran’s presidential vote looms, tensions boil over regarding a renewed headscarf crackdown.

— An analysis explores how no matter who wins Iran’s election, much may hinge for Tehran on the ‘Great Satan,’ the United States.

— A “Hamster” cryptocurrency craze gripping Iran highlights its economic malaise.

— A timeline explores the longtime tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.

— Iran’s imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi, who already called for a boycott of the vote, is been sentenced to another year in prison.

— Follow AP’s coverage of the Iranian presidential election at https://apnews.com/hub/iran.

Here is the latest:

Iran’s acting president Mohammad Mokhber has cast his vote and said that there are no security concerns in election.

“We have no security concerns for the elections,” Mokhber said in comments aired by state television. “The polling stations and its branches are properly placed in such a way that there is no point in the country or even outside the country where voting is not possible.”

Mokhber has served as acting president in the wake of the May helicopter crash that killed President Ebrahim Raisi. He was Raisi’s first vice president, but did not apply to run in the election.

Iran’s supreme leader called on the public to vote in the snap election to replace hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash in May.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave brief remarks Friday, speaking to journalists gathered in Tehran to cover him voting.

“I don’t see any reason for doubt,” Khamenei said at the ceremony in a mosque attached to his offices.

Khamenei said a high turnout was a “definite need” for the Islamic Republic. He also called the election an “important political test.”

Raisi, 63, had been seen as a protégé of Khamenei and a possible successor for the supreme leader position in Iran, which has final say over all matters of state in the Shiite theocracy.

Any Iranian 18 or older can vote in Friday’s election. There are 58,640 polling centers around the country, set up in mosques, schools and other public buildings. A voter first needs to show their national ID card and fill out a form. They then dip an index fingers in ink, making a print on the form, while officials stamp their ID so they can’t vote twice. On the secret ballot, a voter writes down the name and the numerical code of the candidate they are voting for and drops it into a ballot box. Voting lasts from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., though authorities routinely keep polls open at least several hours later.

Iranian presidents serve four-year terms and are limited to serving two terms. Iran’s president is subordinate to the supreme leader and over the recent years, the supreme leader’s power appears to have grown stronger amid tensions with the West. However, a president can bend the state’s policies on both domestic issue and foreign affairs. Former President Hassan Rouhani, for example, struck the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers with the blessing of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The hard-line tact taken by the late President Ebrahim Raisi also had Khamenei’s backing.

Iran describes itself as an Islamic Republic. The Shiite theocracy holds elections and has elected representatives passing laws and governing on behalf of its people. However, the supreme leader has the final say on all state matters and the Guardian Council must approve all laws passed by the parliament. Those who led Iran’s Green Movement after hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed 2009 re-election remain under house arrest. Security forces answering only to the supreme leader also routinely arrest dual nationals and foreigners, using them as pawns in international negotiations. Mass protests in recent years have seen bloody crackdowns on dissent. Meanwhile, hard-liners now hold all levers of power within the country. The Guardian Council approves all candidates and also has never allowed a woman to run for president. It routinely rejects candidates calling for dramatic reform, stifling change.

Brought to you by www.srnnews.com