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Brisk turnout expected today at polling sites

The county elections supervisor predicts the close presidential race will draw more voters than usual.

By MATTHEW WAITE

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 7, 2000


If Kurt Browning's predictions hold true, as many as 173,000 Pasco voters will cast votes in today's county, state and national elections.

photo
[Times photo: Carrie Pratt]
Marion MacGrath of New Port Richey holds a sign Saturday supporting the Gore-Lieberman ticket. She was outsideGulf Square Mall with other members of the National Organization for Women and Women's Democratic Club.
"Maybe more," Browning, the Pasco County supervisor of elections, said Monday. "It's going to be a busy day, a hectic day."

Already, more absentee ballots -- 17,000 -- have been sent out to Pasco voters than Browning said he has seen since he was elected in 1980, with 14,000 of those returned before Monday and Tuesday's mail could be sorted. The absentee ballots alone are a 42-percent increase from the normal 12,000 absentee ballots issued in presidential election years.

Browning's turnout prediction for Tuesday is that 75 to 78 percent of the 221,902 registered voters will punch their choices on the ballot. He said the higher than normal numbers are being fueled by the tight race for president.

"Usually, you have a race where there's a favorite candidate -- I'll call him a shoo-in -- and people say "Why vote?' " Browning said.

But Browning said people think this vote is more important "because the race is so close."

But the presidential race isn't the only contest on the ballot.

Pasco voters will get to vote for a U.S. senator, choose one of three congressional districts that crisscross Pasco, as well as vote in a state Senate race and three state House races.

Locally, Pasco voters will choose between four people to put two new faces on the Board of County Commissioners. Voters will chose between Republican Ted Schrader and Democrat Charlotte Kiefer for the District 1 seat and Republican Jack Armstrong and Democrat Pete Altman for the District 5 seat.

Voters also will choose the next sheriff by voting for incumbent Lee Cannon, a Democrat, or challenger Bob White, a Republican.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You must be registered to vote in the precinct in which you live. If you registered to vote but have moved to another precinct, you can update your address at the polls.

To vote, you must present photo and signature identification. Browning said a driver's license is best, but other picture and signature identification will be accepted.

With the high voter turnout expected, Browning said there could be lines at the polls.

To speed things along, Browning encouraged voters to decide who to vote for before they arrive at the precinct and take along a sample ballot and mark it with the names of the candidates they plan to support.

-- Staff writer Matthew Waite can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6247 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6247. His e-mail address is waite@sptimes.com.

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