Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is facing the tightest election race since he came to power at the turn of the century.
Bidding for a fourth term of six years, the 58-year-old has called on voters to help him extend his socialist revolution.
While most polls leading up to Sunday’s election have put the radical-leftist in front, his more youthful moderate challenger Henrique Capriles has been catching up.
The 40-year-old has promised to turnaround the struggling economy and tackle high inflation.
Venezuela is a major oil producer. But while Chavez has used much of the country’s wealth to fund social programmes, Capriles says production has declined because of a lack of investment.
Around 140,000 soldiers have been guarding polling booths up and down the country and the election is making use of a computerised voting system.
But some Venezuelans are nervous that if Capriles were to win, the transition period after 14 years of autocratic rule by Chavez could be delicate at best.