Mutharika is facing stiff challenge from deputy Chilima and former baptist preacher Chakwera.
Polls have opened in Malawi after a closely fought election campaign as President Peter Mutharika battles to hold off two serious rivals in a race that focused on corruption allegations and economic development.
Polling stations opened at 6am (04:00 GMT) and will close at 6pm (16:00 GMT) with around 6.8 million registered voters eligible to elect a new parliament and local government councillors at more than 5,000 polling stations across the landlocked country.
The election is the first since a new law forced parties to declare large donations and banned the once-common practice by candidates of giving cash handouts.
Mutharika, who has been in power since 2014, faces opposition from his own deputy Saulos Chilima and former Baptist preacher Lazarus Chakwera.
His bid for a second term highlights the improvements he said he has made to the economy as well as the road and electricity infrastructure across the southeastern African country.
Under Mutharika, inflation has fallen from 23 percent to below nine percent, but still only 11 percent of the population has access to electricity.
Food shortages, power outages and ballooning external debt have hurt Mutharika’s popularity while in office.