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First and foremost: Will the optical scan machines work?

Pasco County's election supervisor Brian Corley predicts a 25 to 27 percent turnout when today's voting concludes — hardly a busy day. "Anything higher, I'm tickled pink," Corley said Monday. Whatever the turnout, those voters will answer these key questions — assuming, of course, everything goes well with Question No. 1.

How will Pasco voters fare with the new optical scan voting machines, especially under Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley's first major election using them?

By state law, Pasco and other counties had to trade touch screen voting machines for an optical scan system, in which voters fill in ovals on paper ballots. Pasco has been known as the Florida class nerd for its quality elections with early results, so today is a test for voters and Corley alike. He is unopposed in the primary, but voters will remember his performance today when the November election rolls around.

Will voters punish local incumbents by electing challengers?

Office-holders are being challenged in primaries in three County Commission races and the sheriff's race. With the economy down, the results will show if incumbents can weather the storm forged by high insurance costs and the building bust.

Will the Pasco GOP oust its leaders?

Pasco GOP chairman Bill Bunting is being challenged to represent his own precinct on the executive committee. If he loses, he could lose his chairman's post. Meanwhile, Bunting is challenging longtime state party committeeman John Renke II — one of the two people representing Pasco on the state committee — in a countywide GOP vote.

Just how pumped up are Dems this year?

With Barack Obama revving up hopes with campaign operations in Pasco, Democratic Party leaders say their voters are hyped for the election. But will they get excited when the races aren't nearly as sexy? There are two countywide Democratic primaries, sheriff and County Commission District 3, and state Senate and congressional contests in parts of Pasco.

For open seats, do voters prefer the insider or the outsider? The School Board race features Kurt Conover and Joanne Hurley — community staples for 52 years and 29 years, respectively — and Peter Hanzel, who arrived here six years ago and touts a fresh perspective. In the Clerk of Court GOP primary, chief deputy clerk Paula O'Neil is emphasizing her experience over Dan Tipton, the former New Port Richey mayor running on a platform of change.

Times staff writer Jeffrey S. Solocheck contributed to this report. David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6232.

First and foremost: Will the optical scan machines work? 08/25/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 28, 2008 3:58pm]

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