Fisk has reported on the circulation of fliers purporting to be copies of a confidential Interior Ministry letter showing the “actual results” of the election, which I suppose we are expected to believe they sent to Khamenei as a souvenir, and is appropriately as skeptical of the ludicrous Mousavi and Karroubi numbers (totaling approximately 80% of the vote to Ahmadinejad’s 14%) as everyone has reasonably been skeptical of Ahmadinejad’s alleged 24 million votes. Of course, why the ministry would have the “actual results” on Monday, when the letter was dated, after the election had already been declared for the incumbent is one of those things the protesters would rather not think about. The 13m+ figure for Karroubi seems almost designed as a retort to the suspiciously low undercount in the official results (400,000), as if to say, “We can make up ridiculously favorable numbers just like you!” Via Clive Davis, Hooman Majd has a helpful, balanced assessment of what the real numbers for Ahmadinejad were likely to have been:
How could the officials, after all, have altered the hand-written ballots of more than 40m citizens or counted enough ballots in such a short time? It has dawned on many Iranians there might never have been any intention to count the ballots. The Big Lie? …There is little question that Mr Ahmadinejad enjoys the support of perhaps as many as 15m Iranians, but the results adding another 10m votes to his hardcore base beggar belief. Shock and awe? You bet.
It does seem clear that the votes, or at least a great many of the votes, were never counted, and it fits with what we know that the final numbers were simply made up. Note that this in itself does not prove that the election was stolen as such (i.e., it doesn’t prove that Mousavi actually won a majority or even a plurality), but merely that the authorities had no intention of letting anyone but Ahmadinejad win. The end result may be the same, but that seems an important distinction to make. Rather than drag out the process into a second round, they wanted to be done with it as soon as possible, so why bother counting anything? That seems to make the most sense of what we have seen, but this, too, is really just speculation.
That said, the flier that Mousavi backers are now waving about as the “proof” appears to be little more than counter-propaganda. If it is incredible and absurd that Ahmadinejad won two-thirds of the vote nationwide, as so many people insist it is, it is no less absurd to think that two-thirds of the people who voted for him in 2005 abandoned him. If Majd’s estimate is even close to being right, the claim that Ahmadinejad won fewer than 6m votes is fairly laughable. Moreover, the idea that the government would go to the trouble of counting all votes after it had already decided to give the election to Ahmadinejad ahead of time is bizarre, and it is even more bizarre to think that the ministry responsible for making up the official numbers would make any kind of official record of the “actual results.” It remains probable that Ahmadinejad still won a plurality, but that no one at the highest levels wanted to take a chance that he wouldn’t, and no one wanted to run the risk of the second round going against their candidate.