In Azerbaijan, Officials Will Collect Your Ballot From You at Home

It's election day in the former Soviet Republic.

Today is election day in Azerbaijan, where President Ilham Aliyev is expected to win his third straight term.

Azerbaijan has a troubled human rights history. One group claims 142 people are being held in prison "on political grounds," and Human Rights Watch reports a "dramatic deterioration of the government's record on freedom of expression, assembly, and association." According to Radio Free Europe, observers from nearly 100 countries are on hand to monitor voting and polling stations.

This election marks the first time the major opposition movements around the country formed a single coalition to run against Aliyev. Together, they're backing Jamil Hasanli, a 61-year old historian. A 2009 referendum modified the country's constitution so that Aliyev could seek a third term.

There have been allegations of voting irregularities. But the Council of Europe's vote-monitoring group PACE has not yet seen instances of fraud, according to RFE. At the time of publication, exit polls show Aliyev with 84 percent of the vote. 

Reuters photographer David Mdzinarishvili followed election officials as they went door to door to register votes earlier today around Nardaran, a municipality with 8,300 people 15 miles northeast of Baku. The town is one of the more religious areas in a mostly secular country. In fact, Nardaran (substantially poorer than the nearby capital) is where the now banned Islamic Party of Azerbaijan was founded and where violent protests against the government have taken place:

Election officials carry a mobile voting box during the presidential elections in the village of Nardaran, some 22 miles north-east of Baku, October 9, 2013.  (REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili)
Selma Guliyeva, 83, casts her ballot at her home during the presidential elections in the village of Nardaran, some 35 km (22 miles) north-east of Baku, October 9, 2013. (REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili) 
Tofig Dadashev (R), 63, is helped by his son as he fills a ballot at his home during the presidential elections in the village of Nardaran, October 9, 2013. (REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili) 
Zahra Tahirova (R), 80, casts her ballot at her home during the presidential elections in the village of Nardaran, October 9, 2013. (REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili)
Zahra Tahirova (R), 80, waits as an election official checks her ID at her home during the presidential elections in the village of Nardaran, October 9, 2013. (REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili) 
Gulgez Jabrailova (L), 78, waits as an election official checks her ID at her home during the presidential elections in the village of Nardaran, October 9, 2013. (REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili) 

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