There has been a record turnout for elections that have taken on symbolic importance in Hong Kong following months of protest.
Over 40% of the district’s 4.1 million registered voters had turned out to vote by 2:30pm (6:30am Irish Time).
That is more than the total number of votes cast in 2015 elections – with eight hours still to go.
They are voting for council positions that are largely advisory and hold little power; however the poll is seen by many as a barometer of support for pro-democracy protests.
There 452 seats in the city's 18 district councils up for grabs with a swing towards opposition parties expected to increase the pressure on Beijing.
Demonstrations have been scaled back in recent days – with protesters anxious to ensure the vote went ahead amid Chinese government threats to call it off.
Casting her vote the Beijing-backed city leader Carrie Lam expressed hope the relative calm of recent days would continue.
She promised to listen “more intensively” to the views of district councils.
“I hope this kind of stability and calm is not only for today's election, but to show that everyone does not want Hong Kong to fall into a chaotic situation again, hoping to get out of this dilemma, and let us have a fresh start,” she said.
A number of young pro-democracy activists are running in seats that were once dominated by pro-Beijing candidates.
Democratic candidate Chris Chan said the election would reflect public opinion following the upheaval of recent months.
The protests erupted over a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to China for trial.
They then expanded into wider calls for democratic suffrage and the protection of freedoms promised to the district after it was handed back by the British in 1997.
China has insisted it is not attempting to curtail those freedoms and is claiming that it remains committed to Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” formula.