The voting Saturday displays deep divisions in the strategic Gulf nation, a major oil producer and hub for U.S. ground forces in the Gulf.
Opposition groups—ranging from hardline Islamists to Western-leaning liberals—have bitterly denounced a decree in October by Kuwait's emir to change the balloting system. They claim it will make it easier for officials to influence the outcome.
Kuwait has the Gulf's most political powerfully parliament, which was in the hands of Islamists and their allies earlier this year. The opposition groups now may increasingly turn to street protests after staying on the sidelines in the election.