Hours before sunrise Monday, throngs of Kenyans lined up nationwide to choose a president in a bare-knuckle, anxiously awaited general election in East Africa's largest economy.
Some voters spent the night sprawled on the ground at polling stations, donning heavy jackets in the chilly predawn hours.
The stakes are high -- it is the first poll since the nation plunged into ethnic violence after disputed results in the last election.
"We are excited; this has been a long time coming," said Mark Kamau, who lives in the capital of Nairobi. "We are ready to show the world that this is not the Kenya they saw in 2007."
After the disastrous vote, the government boosted security and set up an ambitious new constitution, making it one of the nation's most complicated polls since it gained independence from Britain in 1963.
Eight contenders are vying for the presidency, including frontrunners Raila Odinga, who is the current prime minister, and his deputy, Uhuru Kenyatta.
Recent polls show the two in a tight race, prompting analysts to raise the possibility of a second round of voting next month.
Kenya's constitution calls for a runoff within a month of the results if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote.
After the last election, the nation revamped various political systems, including the constitution, the electoral process and the judicial system. It said the new system will empower citizens and local governments, ensuring a peaceful election.
"It is one thing to change the constitution, but we have to change our underlying issues of ethnic sentiments that have dated years," Kamau said.
During the last election, Odinga disputed results mandating the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki as the winner, alleging the outcome was rigged.
Supporters loyal to both leaders took to the streets in protest, pitting ethnic groups loyal to both against one another.
More than 1,200 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced -- the worst violence since the nation gained independence.
Optimistic, but prepared
Leading up to this election, Kenyans have pledged peace, with candidates declaring they will settle any election disputes in court.
Candidates have implored their supporters to avoid bloodshed no matter the vote's outcome.
But despite a wave of optimism, some citizens remain wary.
"I don't know what possessed people last time," Kamau said of the violence. "I hope there will be no violence. I'm waiting for Kenya to restore my faith this time."
But as he waits, he is prepared. His refrigerator is stocked and his car is filled with fuel.
"Just in case," he said. "You never know."
'My main issue'
The economy, security, and the fight against corruption, which is rampant in the country, are among voters' top concerns in the election.
The election also has a unique challenge. Kenyatta has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for allegedly inciting a local militia to conduct reprisal attacks in the last election. He has denied the charges.