Information, from 1980 to the present, on the use of the birth certificate/identity document (Shenasnameh) in elections, whether there are penalties for not voting, and whether there is any stigma attached to not having election stamps in one's Shenasnameh [IRN29016.E]

For information on the use of the Shenasnameh in Iranian elections and whether there are penalties for not voting in Iran, please see the document attached to Response to Information Request IRN28959.E of 26 February 1998.

No direct information could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate on whether a person in Iran is likely to be harassed, stigmatized, or inconvenienced in any way for not having election stamps in his or her Shenasnameh. However, media reports found by the Research Directorate contain some anecdotal references to the issue.

A 21 May 1997 Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) dispatch on Iran's presidential election states that "[a] number of Iranians go to the polls just for getting the elections stamp in their identification cards in fear that without the stamp, they might get trouble with official organizations." However, the same dispatch quotes an Iranian voter, "Jafar" as saying that "Me and my family members have never voted and our ID-cards are totally blank without any elections stamp, but we all intend to go to the polls this time to vote for Khatami."

According to a 15 June 1993 article in the Washington Times on the 1993 presidential election in Iran, a statement from the Iraq-based armed Iranian opposition organization the People's Mojahedin claimed that "only 5 million to 6 million of the 33 million eligible voters went to the polls," adding that about 20 percent of those who had voted did so only in order to have their identity documents stamped.

A 27 April 1992 broadcast on the clandestine pro-KDPI radio station, Voice of Iranian Kordestan, reported that the government was unsatisfied with the voter turnout in the city of Kermanshah for Iran's parliamentary elections. The broadcast reported that in response, the authorities threatened that "anyone who did not have a stamp on his identity card proving that he had voted would be deprived of food coupons and of the right to travel to other parts of Iran and abroad." The broadcast did not state whether the threat was carried out, or whether voters in Kermanshah went to the polls in response to that threat.

In a statement issued shortly before the 28 July 1989 Iranian presidential election, the leader of the People's Mojahedin, Massoud Rajavi, claimed that the Iranian government was resorting to two tactics in an effort to increase the voter turnout. The first was to accept invalid identity documents for voting purposes, and the second was to warn people that "lack of an election stamp on their identity cards could result in serious consequences" (Reuters 27 July 1989). However, in a dispatch published after the election, Reuters quoted an unnamed Tehran businessman as saying that he knew several people who had voted in previous elections, but not in the current one, apparently because they were no longer feared negative repercussions from not having election stamps in their identity documents. The same dispatch stated that about one-third of eligible voters had not voted (30 July 1989).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please see below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 21 May 1997. BC Cycle. Farshid Motahari. "Votes for Khatami Reflect Protest Against Islamic Restrictions." (NEXIS)

Reuters. 30 July 1989. AM Cycle. Mohammad Zargham. "Rafsanjani Wins Presidential Poll but Turnout Low." (NEXIS)

_____. 27 July 1989. AM Cycle. "Iranian Opposition Says Presidential Election Illegitimate." (NEXIS)

Voice of Iranian Kordestan [in Persian]. 27 April 1992. "Iran in Brief: Opposition Radio on Repercussions of Voter 'Indifference' to Majlis Elections." (BBC Summary 30 Apr. 1992/NEXIS)

The Washington Times. 15 June 1993. Andrew Borowiec. "Election Results Show Signs of Dissent in Iran." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ottawa.

Electronic sources: IRB databases, REFWORLD.

Note on contacting foreign diplomatic missions in Canada:

Ability to obtain information from diplomatic representatives depends on availability of

information and cooperation from individual countries.