15 Jun 2018

Voting under way in Cook Islands election

12:54 pm on 15 June 2018

Voting is under way in the Cook Islands as 58 candidates seek to fill the 24 seats in the local parliament.

Cook Islands flag

Cook Islands flag Photo: RNZ/ Tim Glasgow

Polling booths have been busy since they opened at 9am local time.

Three political parties are contesting the elections - the ruling Cook Islands Party led by incumbent Prime Minister Henry Puna, the Democratic Party whose leader Tina Browne is hoping to be the country's first woman prime minister, and the smallest grouping One Cook Islands.

A Cook Islands News poll had Ms Browne leading the preferred prime minister ranks at 29 percent while Mr Puna was at 22 percent, although 28 percent said they were not sure as recently as this week.

The Main Electoral Roll has 10,315 people registered to vote and at least 80 percent are expected to cast their vote today.

The majority of voters live on the main island of Rarotonga and just over 7500 are eligible to vote in the constituency they live in.

There are 10 constituencies on Rarotonga and 14 in the outer islands of group.

The smallest of Tamarua on the island of Mangaia has just 55 voters.

The first preliminary results are expected to be announced at around 7pm local time.

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