DAMASCUS, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Syria's presidential vote ended at midnight on Tuesday and the vote count has begun, according to the state-run SANA news agency.
The general election started at 7:00 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) on Tuesday and was previously scheduled to end at 7:00 p.m. local time (1600 GMT). But the Supreme Judicial Committee, tasked with overseeing the electoral process, later announced to extend the voting for another five hours until midnight on Tuesday, citing a "huge turnout."
The committee said that the turnout was "beyond expectations," adding that they had to distribute 220 more ballot boxes in the afternoon due to the large number of voters.
More than 15 million eligible and registered Syrian voters are expected to cast their ballots for the country's three presidential contenders, including incumbent President Bashar al- Assad, who is highly expected to win a third seven-year term in office.
The pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV placed the number of voters at 10 million. Still the official count has yet to be announced.
It is the first multi-candidate poll in Syria's modern history, which has been dismissed by the exiled opposition and their Western backers as "farce." The rebels have even threatened to intensify their attacks on the capital to disrupt the vote.
The judicial committee said the voting process went fine without problems.