Political candidates on the Aug. 26 ballot are making last-minute preparations as they await to hear what voters have decided about their fate.
But nearly 13,000 people already have voted in the primary election — all by mail.
Pasco County supervisor of elections Brian Corley has been keeping a real-time update of turnout as votes come in. Since early voting doesn’t begin until Saturday, all the ballots so far have been by mail. And there’s some interesting tidbits about what’s come in so far.
As of Thursday night, the number of ballots separating registered Democrats and registered Republicans who have voted is just two — Republicans lead Democrats 5,445 to 5,443. Other party voters and independents have cast 1,919 ballots by mail so far.
That’s an interesting turnout, considering registered Republicans make up 38 percent of the county’s total electorate, while Democrats have 34 percent. The main primary race, however, is Republican in Pasco County Commission District 2. There is another primary in District 4 between Mike Wells Jr. and Henry Wilson Jr., but that is an open primary where anyone can vote, since no other candidates from different political parties have filed.
Voters also will have a chance to cast a vote in a school board race between incumbent Steve Luikart and challenger Marc Yacht, a non-partisan race. Judge candidates also are on the ballot, still looking for votes to get on the bench.
Despite the five-digit turnout so far, it’s still only a fraction of the overall number of people registered to vote. The 12,807 ballots cast so far is a little more than 4 percent turnout.
The most votes so far have come from Precinct 59 north at Timber Oaks in Port Richey with an 8 percent turnout so far. The worst turnout has been from Precinct 9 based at Darby Community Church in Dade City, where just 10 voters — or 1.3 percent of the registered voters — have cast ballots so far.
Early voting in Pasco County begins Aug. 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and continues Sunday at the same times. During the next week, early voting will be available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., before giving voters one last chance before actual voting day on Aug. 23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Early voting is available at eight locations, including the East Pasco Government Center at 14236 Sixth St., in Dade City; the Land O’ Lakes Library at 2818 Collier Parkway; the New River Library at 34043 State Road 54 in Zephyrhills; and The Grove at Wesley Chapel, 6013 Wesley Grove Blvd.
For a complete list of early voting sites, click here.