President Morales, widely known as just "Evo," is the favorite to win, with most polls showing as scoring a first-round victory.
Bolivians voted in an election on Sunday to decide whether to extend the rule of President Evo Morales to nearly two decades amid a rise in right-wing governments in the region who have been facing major protests in neighboring Chile, Ecuador and Argentina over harsh austerity measures.
Morales, widely known as just "Evo," is the favorite to win, with most polls showing as scoring a first-round victory, while some opposition-backed surveys show him winning but with less support.
Morales, a former union leader for coca growers, became Bolivia's first Indigenous president in 2006. He has overseen a long stretch of political and economic stability for Bolivia, a landlocked country of 11 million people.
"I support Evo because I want a stable economy," said Elsa Lima, 55, who sells sweets from a kiosk in the capital La Paz. "Otherwise everything will spin out of control and there will be crisis."
Morales needs 40 percent of ballots and a 10-point lead to win outright on Sunday. Polls opened at 8:00 am local time and closed eight hours later at 4:00 p.m. local time. The next president will govern from 2020-2025.
Morales, whose campaign slogan is "Secure Future," has fanned fears that Mesa would seek support from the International Monetary Fund, and warned about the recent unrest in Ecuador and Argentina over unpopular loan deals with the IMF.
Official counting has begun and preliminary results are expected at 19h00 local time.
The voting stations have closed across the country.
Bolivia's day of general elections is coming to an end as polls will begin to close in 15 minutes. Meanwhile here is an oped that analyzes the threats facing Evo Morales and his movement from the U.S. right-wing administration of Donald Trump and their local allies.
Update 1:56 pm
Final official results will be announced on Tuesday at the latest but preliminary results later this evening will give a clear picture of the winner of the first round of the Bolivian presidential elections, Antonio Costas, vice president of Bolivia's electoral court, said.
Antonio Costas from Bolivia's electoral court has told teleSUR that preliminary results for around 70% of votes will be known at 19:30 La Paz time, then for 90% of votes at 22:00. Exit polls will be published at 20:00.#BoliviaDecides#EleccionesGenerales2019 pic.twitter.com/96bO330kKm— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) October 20, 2019
Update 1:20 pm
Chi Hyun Chung has been labeled a ‘Bolivian Bolsonaro’, the Korean born businessman has founded 70 evangelical churches in Bolivia. He hit headlines through frequent controversial remarks when asked about what he believes to be the cause of male violence against women, he claimed that it was due to women talking excessively, commenting, “
"Well, while a man says one word, a woman speaks ten, isn't it?"
Though he began as an unknown figure, opinion polls suggest he is likely to come 4th in these elections.
Update 12:50 pm
The Bolivian electoral authority says voting is taking place across the country calm and tranquility so far. Voting is expected to end in three hours.
Bolivian people continue to go to voting stations across the country in order to vote in the country's presidential and general elections.
Update 10:45 am
Bolivia has been one of the few remaining countries in the region led by a leftist progressive government who has overseen stability for over a decade. Evo Morales is hoping to gain another term while right-wing candidates are hoping to end his presidency and return the country to U.S.-friendly domestic and foreign policies.
Update 10:30 am
Main opposition candidate Carlos Mesa cast his vote.
Update 10:05 am
Presidential candidate Oscar Miguel Ortiz cast his vote in the Bolivian city of Sant Cruz.
Update 9:50 am
Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera cast his vote accompanied by his family. He spoke to reporters and commented on the crisis in Chile. "I ask citizens to vote with these situations in mind so that they do not occur in our country"
Update 8:55 am
President Evo Morales and presidential candidate for Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) cast his vote.
Update 8:47 am
Voting is underway in Chile despite the state of emergency.
Update 8:05 am
teleSUR's correspondent Freddy Morales is on the ground in La Paz.