Cook Islanders go to the polls on August 1

The Cook Islands general election will take place on August 1.

The election August 1 date was announced on Tuesday by The Queen's representative Sir Tom Marsters on national radio.

The Chief Electoral Officer, Taggy Tangimetua said the 49-day turnaround to polling day is the "shortest she has ever seen in the Cook Islands."

The Cook Islands Electoral office said voter registration is open until June 20th, while nominations for election candidates open on June 21st and close on June 30th.

The race is between the Democratic Party led by Tina Browne and the Cook Islands Party led by the country's current Prime Minister Mark Brown and One Cook Island's Movement led by George Turia.

The nation's electoral office is urging all Cook Islanders to register for this year's election. People are encouraged to update their details with the office if necessary so they can be sent voting papers.

To be eligible to vote, you must reside in a constituency consecutively for 3 months. Cook Islanders who are normally residents in New Zealand are not eligible to vote.

The 24-member Cook Islands Parliament is elected using the 'first past the post' (FPP) system. Voters cast their vote for a candidate of their choice, and the candidate who receives the most votes wins.

Under the FPP system, each voter has one vote and the candidate who receives the most votes in each electorate is the winner. Successful candidates do not need to win an absolute majority (that is, more than 50%) of the votes cast.

There are however exceptions given for students; people who are in New Zealand for medical reasons; diplomats and consular staff, who are normally residents in the Cook Islands and are absent from the constituency, not exceeding four years.

Cook Island High Commissioner, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka said election publicity and awareness materials were still in the process of being finalised and would be made public soon.

"I believe the onus to vote should be on the voter to exercise their democratic right to do so," she said.

Despite this being a fast turnaround, she was confident there was still "enough time for all eligible voters to claim that right with the Electoral Office for their vote to be included in the count, in time for the General election come August 1."