Voters at Polling Station No. 148, in a red brick school building in central Moscow, appeared largely to agree. “He is a strong politician, a strong president, who led Russia to rebirth,” said Vitaly T. Tretyakov, the dean of the faculty of television journalism at Lomonosov Moscow State University.
The years under President Boris N. Yeltsin in the 1990s were a disaster, Mr. Tretyakov added, echoing a common theme. Whether the current electoral system was good or bad was a different matter, he said.
Several voters said that they found the president appealing both as a politician and as a man. “He does a lot both domestically and internationally,” said Irina I. Kuzmenko, a teacher in the Russian Orthodox Church.
There was only one woman among the eight candidates — Ksenia A. Sobchak, 36, the daughter of Mr. Putin’s political mentor and a reality TV star turned political journalist. The attitude of many voters, however, was that choosing any of the opposition candidates would be like asking one of the seven dwarves to assume the role of Snow White.
“It is not easy to rule Russia; it is too big a country,” said Christina Amelina, 50, an artist.
Supporters of Pavel N. Grudinin, the Communist Party candidate, were scattered among the voters. Mr. Grudinin, 57, the millionaire director of a farming enterprise, the Lenin State Farm, vowed to restructure the economy and to nationalize key industries controlled by oligarchs.
The emergence of a possible protest vote for Mr. Grudinin prompted a Kremlin smear campaign against him, even though he remained distant in the government-run polls.
Nikolai A. Volkov, a 26-year-old business manager, said he had voted for Mr. Grudinin because he thought his transformation of the Soviet collective of the Lenin State Farm into a successful agricultural and real estate business could be a model for all of Russia.
The only serious challenger, Aleksei S. Navalny, was barred from running and has called for a boycott. But early indications from election officials indicated that turnout was running higher than in previous presidential votes.
Mr. Putin, a former Soviet intelligence officer, barely bothered to campaign, except to stress his constant theme that Russia was a besieged fortress and that he was the only man to keep it safe by rebuilding its arsenal and projecting power beyond its borders, especially in challenging the United States.
Election Day was moved to March 18, the fourth anniversary of Russia’s seizure of Crimea, to emphasize that theme.
The poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Britain with a rare nerve agent on March 4 was seen in the West as a confirmation of Mr. Putin’s pugnacious tactics, prompting Britain to kick out 23 Russian diplomats. Russia responded with a tit-for-tat expulsion of the same number of British diplomats on the eve of the vote.
Russia has suggested, improbably, that various Western nations may have been behind the attack in an effort to bruise Mr. Putin’s election prospects.
There is zero chance of his prospects sustaining any real damage, with the outcome preordained.
“It is not a democracy but they have to go through the motions,” said Konstantin von Eggert, a Russian television talk show host and veteran political analyst. “Real competition would make his win more significant, but he does not want to go that far.”
Mr. Putin, 65, has been the most powerful man in Russia since he first became president in 2000, stepping aside once to serve as prime minister to get around term limits. The vote today will keep him in office until 2024, making him the longest-serving leader since Stalin.
In the absence of further constitutional changes, he cannot run again, so many analysts see the current vote as marking the start of the fight to choose his successor.
Mr. Putin sought an unprecedented mandate from this election of 70 percent of the vote with a 70 percent turnout. He reportedly wanted to beat his results from the last election, in 2012: nearly 64 percent of the vote from a turnout of more than 65 percent.
Tens of thousands of monitors fanned out across the country. Some 1,500 were sent by right-wing European and other groups sympathetic to Mr. Putin. By far the bulk, however, came from political organizations opposed to him and they began reporting standard, low-level irregularities.
“The rigging happens not with the aim of increasing the number of votes for a certain candidate, but to show that he was elected by the majority, at least 50 percent,” said Grigory Melkonyants, the co-chairman of Golos, an independent monitoring organization that has been largely driven out of business by the Kremlin. “With that, nobody should question the legitimacy of this person.”
In the past, abuses have occurred through various methods including multiple voting or ballot stuffing, especially in some 15 regions with a long history of bending election rules. This election was supposed to be cleaner than previous votes because dubious results in 2012 prompted large street demonstrations, something the Kremlin wants to avoid.
State employees, pensioners and residents of rural areas, all of whom depend heavily on the government, tend to vote for Mr. Putin out of a combination of enthusiasm, habit and blackmail. Mr. Putin also has strong support among the young, but they are the least likely to vote.
The Central Election Commission said its website had been the target of an unsuccessful hacking attack early Sunday. Ella Pamfilova, the head of the commission, said the attempt was traced to computers in 15 countries, but she did not name them.
Asked what matters to them, most Russians would say an improvement in their living conditions, with higher wages or pensions, better medical care and better roads. Russia suffered through an economic recession in 2015 and 2016, with real wages dropping for the past four years.
Although Mr. Putin promises domestic improvements, it is unclear where the money will come from. The emphasis of his March 1 state of the nation speech was on a more patriotic theme: making Russia a forced to be reckoned with.
“There is no need to speak about roads, we are talking about national security, national interests, which require consolidation and loyalty to the flag,” said Lev Gudkov, the director of the Levada Center, an independent polling organization whose work was also limited by the government.
Stanislav M. Dmitrievsky, a rights activist in the northern city of Nizhny Novgorod, supported the boycott. On Friday, he was sentenced to 20 days in jail for organizing an illegal march to mark the third anniversary of the assassination of the Kremlin critic Boris Y. Nemtsov.
“When one of the participants determines who will be his competitors, that cannot be called an election,” Mr. Dmitrievsky said before he was jailed.
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