But with the economy suffering from a crisis in allied Venezuela and relations with the United States strained anew under President Donald Trump, some Cubans are pessimistic about their lives improving and feel nervous about what is to come.
CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez reports from Havana that many on the island do not necessarily foresee any drastic changes, and there are some in the younger generation that were hopeful of some expansion of limited economic reforms and more opportunities.
The 605 deputies selected a new 31-member Council of State and its new president from among names proposed by a commission.
The new president will be the first person outside the Castro family to lead the island since in almost six decades.
The result of the votes for president and vice presidents and other national leaders is expected to be officially announced Thursday, the anniversary of the US -backed Bay of Pigs invasion defeated by Cuban forces in 1961.
Political campaigning is outlawed in Cuba, so little is known about Diaz-Canel's plans to navigate these challenges.
He grew up in a modest one-storey house with a crumbling stucco facade in what locals say is one of the roughest neighborhoods of the provincial capital, Santa Clara.
President Raul Castro, 86, is expected to step down after two five-year terms during the assembly, marking the completion of Castro rule on the socialist nation.
District chief among 13 security forces killed in Ghazni attack
The attackers planted mines to prevent government reinforcements from coming and quickly took responsibility for the attack. A resident of the area, Hassan Ali, said many security forces suffered casualties in the overnight attack.
Most Cubans know their first vice president as an uncharismatic figure who until recently maintained a public profile so low it was virtually nonexistent.
That dexterity will be crucial if Diaz-Canel wants to push through changes along the sort of careful trajectory Castro has set enough to make Cuban socialism sustainable but not so much they destroy the system. Though the reforms caused a boom in the Cuban economy, they have since slowed.
"Any change in Cuba is reason to celebrate", said Cuban-American Christina Ibanez.
That media went into overdrive Wednesday with a single message: Cuba's system is continuing in the face of change. Ballots offer only the option of approving or disapproving the official candidate.
"It falls on our generation to give continuity to the revolutionary process", said assembly member Jorge Luis Torres, a municipal councilman from central Artemisa province who appeared to be in his 40s. The results will be announced and the new president will be sworn in on Thursday. The government has nominated First Vice President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel as the sole candidate for president.
Castro, who had served for decades as defence minister, became president in 2008 when Fidel Castro, his health failing, formally handed over power.
Cuban lawmakers started a two-day session yesterday to name the first non-Castro president in more than 40 years, ushering in younger Communist leaders who will be under pressure to bring greater prosperity and revitalize the creaking economy.