Kuwaitis Saturday began casting their ballots to elect their third parliament in less than two years amid an opposition boycott, dpa reported.
About 309 candidates, including eight women, were vying for the 50 seats in the new legislature, the oil-rich emirate's seventh since 2006.
The opposition, comprising Islamists and liberals, are boycotting the vote to protest a royal decree amending the electoral law. Under that change, each voter chooses only one candidate, instead of four.
The opposition said the amendment discriminates against them because, under the old system, they could form alliances during the campaign, which is crucial because political parties are banned in the Gulf country. The electoral changes would produce a rubber-stamp parliament, it predicted.
Kuwait's ruler, Emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, has repeatedly said electoral changes are aimed at safeguarding national unity and security.
The Constitutional Court in June voided the pro-regime parliament elected in December after opposition protests demanded its dissolution. The court ordered early elections.
The court, however, threw out opposition lawsuits against changes to the election system and affirmed their validity.
While Kuwait has had an elected parliament since 1963, effective power remains in the hands of the ruling al-Sabah family.
More than 400,000 Kuwaitis, 53 per cent of them being women, are eligible to vote. Polls were scheduled to close at 8 pm (1700 GMT).
Turnout was expected to be low because the polls were taking place during the fasting month of Ramadan and during the summer when temperatures often reach 50 degrees.