By Martin Patience
BBC News website, in Ramallah
At Ramallah High School for Boys there was a steady trickle of voters making their way to the polls.
Party supporters have taken to the streets with flags and banners
Guarding the blue school gates, armed Palestinian police cursorily checked voters as they made their way into the school.
The same policeman also told a group of young Palestinian boys, their bikes decorated with green Hamas campaign material and flying the party's flag, to stop blocking the entry.
After weeks of campaigning, the voters appeared relaxed as they marked their ballot papers to elect a new Palestinian legislative council for only the second time in their history.
Early in the morning, Mustapha Barghouti, a candidate on the Independent Palestinian list, toured the polling station.
He welcomed the elections which he described as "pure and democratic" and insisted that "Palestine was teaching the Middle East a lesson in democracy and elections."
Across Ramallah, the streets surrounding the polling stations were choked with cars by midday.
Supporters of the various factions handed out fistfuls of election campaign pamphlets in a final attempt to sway undecided voters.
For Omar Masalem, 35, this was the first time he had voted in a Palestinian legislative election.
While the sales assistant in a local cosmetic shop was reluctant to reveal his voting intentions, he welcomed the elections in euphoric terms.
"Today is a day of democracy," he said. "Today is a day of freedom and liberty where we decide the future of our country."
Another voter, Amil Ahmed, 39, believed that the participation of Hamas in the elections was a step forward and was good democracy. "They are a big part of the Palestinian people," she said.
While there was orderliness at the polling stations in Ramallah, a scrum of Palestinians surrounded the central post office in East Jerusalem where they are casting their votes.
Over 100,000 Palestinians living in Jerusalem are eligible to vote in the Palestinian election but just 6,300 residents are allowed to cast their ballot inside the city. The remainder have to travel outside Jerusalem's boundaries.
Afman Mahmoud said she had to wait for half an hour before she finally managed to vote.
Jerusalem voting took place in the post office, not the polling station
Pushing her way through a crowd of Palestinian protesters bearing banners and posters saying "Israeli Democracy Arrests Candidates", she said: "I don't like seeing Israelis behind the ballot boxes."
"What makes me angry is that we vote in a Palestinian election but the polling station is an Israeli government office and it's being monitored by Israelis," Afman said.
But she added that she had not been rushed to fill out her ballots in the post office and felt that the whole process had been "fair and clean."
Democracy at work?
Local Palestinian election observers claimed they had not been allowed to enter the post office.
But European Election monitors could be seen standing inside the post office.
With so many people about, 40-year-old Fouad Abbas had set up a cart outside selling coffee, heated with a Bunsen burner.
"There's work on election day," he said with a big smile.
Back at the Ramallah High School for Boys, the wife of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti accused Israel of hindering Palestinian democracy.
"My husband being in an Israeli cell does not help the Palestinian democratic cause," said Fadwa Barghouti.