Results from Myanmar's landmark vote are expected to be announced early this week, as the party of veteran democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi seeks a bigger role in the political process.
Millions of Burmese took to the polls Sunday in an election billed as the country's freest vote in a quarter-century.
Victory for Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, would weaken the power of the military-linked party, which is led by President Thien Sein, a former general.
In Yangon, the country's largest city, people lined up at polling stations before sunrise.
The long wait was a cause for concern for Aung Kyaw San, an election observer for the National Youth Congress, a civil society group.
"It isn't right for someone to have to wait more than one hour in line to vote," he said.
Hlaing Myint, a sales manager, waited for five hours, but said it was worth it."This is the only way to change things," he said. He said the new government's focus should be on improving education, health care and economic growth.
"And we need law and order," he added.
Opposition leader and Nobel laureate Suu Kyi also cast her vote Sunday.
Just before the polls closed, voters dashed in under pouring rain to cast last-minute ballots as election officials used a megaphone to announce time was running out.
At a monastery that served as a polling station, voters, journalists and election workers were barefoot as part of Buddhist tradition. As soon as polls closed at 4 p.m. local time, a padlock clicked shut at the gate.
Zaw Win, a retired supervisor of engineers, lined up at daybreak for his chance to vote. Now 67, he was a high school student when he experienced his first military coup. He tells CNN he's been through "so many kinds of government."
But he is optimistic that this time, his vote will matter.
"Now I vote for the party and for the person I like, he said. "So I am quite happy."
As he showed off his ink-stained finger -- a mark election organizers are using to prevent people from voting more than once -- he said the process was reassuringly straightforward.
"Before, I was worried about the election. But it was very easy."
Many people appeared to be coming to vote as families.
Su Hnin Kyu, 20, came to vote with her parents and two older brothers, and the family reveled in the holiday-like atmosphere. Her brother, Thet Naing, 23, said he was voting for the first time.
The family enthusiastically supported Aung San Suu Kyi.
Thet Naing said he would be happy if Suu Kyi's NLD wins the election, but also expressed concern about the possibility of rigging.
"If it's not clean we will be sad," he said.
Pro-democracy supporters are optimistic that the election could be the beginning of real change in the country, which has been isolated for decades due to its repressive military-dominated government.