More than a quarter of a million election observers have fanned out across Afghanistan to monitor Thursday's landmark polls in a massive multinational operation to guard against fraud and violence.
Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) expects to deploy around 250,000 people at polling stations to ensure voters can cast their ballots without fear of violence or vote rigging.
The observers, the vast majority of whom are Afghans, will man more than 6,000 polling centres with the aim of ensuring voting goes smoothly and, after the poll, that ballots are not tampered with.
Seventeen million voters are set to elect a president for the second time in Afghanistan's history. They will also elect 420 councillors in 34 provinces, in a huge logistical operation that has been handicapped by insecurity.
International observers at UN organisations said the IEC's logistical timetable for getting material and personnel to polling stations across the vast and largely undeveloped country was running to plan.
The vote is going ahead after weeks of growing concerns about insurgent disruption, vindicated by two Taliban suicide attacks in Kabul in as many days, and written threats to voters to stay away from the polls.