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: