US and Afghan troops have combined forces in an effort to prevent the Taliban from disrupting the poll.
The Taliban have urged Afghans to boycott the first national assembly and provincial council elections in more than 30 years or risk being hurt.
Despite the threats, turnout is expected to be high with 12.5 million people, almost half of them women, now registered to vote.
Nearly 5,800 candidates from all walks of life are standing for 249 seats in the lower house of the national assembly, and for the 34 provincial councils, which have a total of 420 seats.
Organisers backed by police have been shipping out ballot boxes and papers
during the past week, using trucks and helicopters as well as donkeys and
camels to reach far-flung corners, officials said.
Almost every available space in Kabul and other cities has been covered
with posters while some vehicles promoting candidates drove through the
streets with their horns blaring, in defiance of a 48-hour ban on campaigning.
The polls, the first of their kind since 1969, represent the latest stage
in Afghanistan’s path to democracy since US-led forces overthrew the hardline Taliban nearly four years ago after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
They follow the victory of US-backed leader Hamid Karzai in a historic
presidential election last October.
“The parliamentary poll will be much more complicated than the presidential
election, given the number of candidates and the ballots,” Francesc Vendrell, the European Union’s special representative for Afghanistan, told AFP.
“But the electoral process has gone smoothly. We could have had many
technical problems but it didn’t happen.”
Analysts and officials say the polls are a step forward with approximately a quarter of all parliamentary seats being reserved for women.
However the run up to the election has been marred by violence. Seven candidates have died since early July, when around 5,800 men and women signed up to run for the elections.
More than 1,000 people have been killed in a wave of violence in Afghanistan this year, the bloodiest since the Taliban fled the capital.