Advance voting begins in closely fought New Zealand election

Advance voting has begun for New Zealand's general election, which could see a change of government in the South Pacific nation for the first time in nine years.

Election officials say just over 3 million voters are enrolled for the Sept. 23 election, in the country of nearly 5 million people.

Opinion polls indicate it will be a close race between the conservative National Party, led by Prime Minister Bill English, and the liberal Labour Party, led by Jacinda Ardern.

Six weeks ago the conservatives were comfortably ahead in the polls and appeared to be coasting to a fourth consecutive victory. But then the Labour Party leader quit and 37-year-old Ardern took the reins, sparking a rapid rise in the party's fortunes that some are calling "Jacindamania."