The Polarized Gamma-ray Observer - Lightweight Version (PoGOLite) is a new balloon experiment capable of detecting 10% polarization from a 200 mCrab source in the 25-80 keV energy range in a single 6-hour flight for the first time. Polarization measurements of hard X-rays and soft gamma-rays are expected to provide a powerful probe into high-energy emission mechanisms as well as source geometries. PoGOLite uses Compton scattering and photo-absorption to measure polarization in an array of 217 well-type phoswich detector cells made of plastic and BGO scintillators. The adoption of a well-type phoswich counter concept and a thick polyethylene neutron shield provides a narrow field-of-view (1.25 msr), a large effective area (≥ 250 cm2 at 40-50 keV), a high modulation factor (more than 25 %) and the low background (∼100 mCrab) required to conduct high-sensitivity polarization measurements. Through tests in laboratories and accelerator facilities of a scaled-down prototype with the front-end electronics of flight design and an extensive study by Monte-Carlo simulation, we have demonstrated high instrument performance. PoGOLite will be ready for a first engineering flight in 2009 and a science flight in 2010, during which polarization signals from the Crab Nebula/pulsar, Cygnus X-1 and other objects will be observed.