have been wearing military uniforms.
Rajipaksa has a majority of more than two-thirds in parliament and controls the eight other provinces. He appears determined to win in the north, where campaign posters for the ruling coalition plastered the walls.
The president has faced international pressure to bring to book those accused of war crimes committed at the end of the war, and to boost reconciliation efforts.
His government has rejected accusations of rights abuses and Rajapaksa in July ordered an inquiry into mass disappearances, mostly of Tamils, at the end of the war.
The military rejects any suggestion of involvement by the security forces in violence of any sort.
Near many polling stations, posters with images of guns told voters to "think twice" and asked if they "want to go for another war" and whether they "really need to vote for TNA".
On condition of anonymity, local election officials said some military officials had turned down repeated requests to remove campaign posters in line with election law.
A foreign observer said he saw widespread fear because of incidents of intimidation.
"The people are scared even to talk," the observer told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "The fear psychosis is already created. The worry is if that will prompt them to decide not to vote."