In populous Montserrado County, home to Monrovia, the capital, Mr. Weah had captured 50.4 percent of the vote with 15 percent of polls reporting. But Monrovia has been Mr. Weah’s stronghold, and Mr. Boakai, for his part, appeared to be pulling support from some unexpected places elsewhere in the country.
Turnout in the election appears to have been high, but there were several reports of irregularities. In one case, hundreds of people with registration cards spent the day demanding to vote in Bong County after poll workers there said their names were not on voter rolls.
The episode prompted officials from Mr. Weah’s party and the party of Alexander Cummings, a former Coca-Cola executive, to lodge complaints with the elections commission. Mr. Cummings was running in third place alongside the lawyer Charles Brumskine.
Liberians began lining up to vote at 4 a.m. Tuesday, and things appeared to have proceeded without incident throughout most of the country.
“Almost all Liberians that turned out to vote were able to cast their ballots,” said Christopher Fomunyoh, senior associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. He said that in a few precincts with multiple polling sites, some voters stood in the wrong line for hours.
“We also witnessed a few cases of persons with voter cards not finding their names on the voters’ list,” he said.
Elections officials said they had worked to solve that issue, and that most voters were eventually able to cast ballots. Still, many people expressed frustration.
The final results of the first round will be announced on Oct. 25.