Nearly 17,550 Pasco County residents had cast ballots by Friday evening, just three days before Tuesday's primary election.
That number — divided almost evenly between absentee voters and early voters at the polls — represents almost 6 percent of Pasco's 295,489 registered voters.
Today is the last day of the state's two-week early voting period. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
By midweek, the total number of early voters had eclipsed the total early turnout in the last midterm elections of 2006, said Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley.
That year, overall turnout was about 20 percent. Corley said he expects this year's contentious election to attract more voters — though not by much.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, he said, early voting turnout is not an indicator of election-day turnout.
County Republicans have been voting in greater numbers than their Democratic counterparts. About 9 percent of the 114,628 registered Republicans had cast ballots by Friday, compared to 5 percent of the 108,331 registered Democrats.
Pasco mailed out 21,605 total absentee ballots, and just over 8,600 were returned.
Corley said he's heard a lot of complaints about the constant barrage of negative television political ads for statewide and congressional offices.
"It's frustrating people," he said.
Count Reinaldo Sanson in that camp. Sanson, 78, of Port Richey voted with his wife Wednesday. He said he despises the campaign advertisements.
"It's a shame, the negative TV ads," he said. "It doesn't lend itself for good public information. If all the politicians are so tarnished, then why should we vote?"
But he did vote early, he said, because he wondered if there might be a big crowd Tuesday.
"We can't stand in line that long," he said.
Robert Siebert, 75, also voted early because he didn't want to deal with any crowds. He and his wife routinely vote early, he said. He wouldn't share his picks, but said the negative advertisements don't faze him.
"I'm pretty strong headed," said Siebert, of Trinity. "I know who I want to vote for."
Jodie Tillman can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6247.