Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco sees big early voting turnout

NEW PORT RICHEY — Helen Kavafes thought casting her ballot on the first day of early voting would keep her from long lines on Election Day.

Unfortunately for her, hundreds of other people Monday had the same idea, causing up to hour-long waits and unexpectedly high voter turnout in Pasco County.

"I never expected to have such a turnout for the first day," said Kavafes, 80, of New Port Richey, who waited an hour to vote at the West Pasco Government Center. "I guess that's wonderful."

The 4,553 people who voted Monday at seven Pasco locations dwarfed the start of early voting in the last presidential election in 2004, when 1,473 people showed up. Pasco voters well exceeded that number within the first three hours Monday.

"Turnout has been fantastic," Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley said.

Voters said the hotly contested presidential race drove them to early voting locations, and the sour economy increased their urgency. The waits in central Pasco locations ranged from a few minutes to nearly a half-hour.

West Pasco's turnout was the most intense. But voters and county employees didn't expect the line to be long at 9:30 a.m. — 30 minutes before voting was allowed to start at the government center.

By noon, the line constantly ran through the hall and out the main doors of the county building, as workers scurried to keep up. Outside, volunteers for local candidates and Barack Obama waved signs, while a band of youths protested abortion to the strumming of a guitar. It felt like Election Day arrived two weeks early.

"If Disney World or Busch Gardens operated like this, they'd go out of business," quipped Ron Trujillo, 63, of New Port Richey after finally casting his ballot.

At the Land O'Lakes office, voters had to take a number and wait to be called. Lisa McGann, 32, of New Port Richey decided to try to make it through the 20- to 30-minute wait, while her husband renewed a license at the tax collector's office next door.

The presidential race made her do it. She planned to vote for Republican John McCain "for homeland security and the economy."

But a waiting Manny Lajmiri, 47, of Land O'Lakes backed Obama. "Things haven't been so good the last eight years, and I feel we need a change," the native of Iran said.

Corley acknowledged it remains to be seen whether the first day is more than early exuberance. But he said the turnout was above what his staff expected, putting the county on pace to exceed the 30,000 early voter turnout of 2004.

Already, nearly one of every 13 Pasco voters have made their pick, including Monday's early voters and the 18,124 people who have turned in absentee ballots.

Times staff writer Lisa Buie contributed to this report. David DeCamp can be reached at or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6232.

Pasco sees big early voting turnout 10/20/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 2:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Editorial: Trump assaults rule of law by attacking attorney general


    Jeff Sessions was a terrible choice for attorney general, and the policies he has pursued in his brief tenure — cracking down on immigrants, bullying sheriffs, prosecuting low-level offenders to the max — are counterproductive. But the stinging personal attacks President Donald Trump leveled at Sessions this …

    The stinging personal attacks President Donald Trump leveled at Attorney General Jess Sessions this week assault the integrity of the Department of Justice and the rule of law.
  2. Iowa group sues United over death of giant rabbit, Simon


    DES MOINES, Iowa — A group of Iowa businessmen filed a lawsuit Wednesday against United Airlines over the death of Simon, a giant rabbit whose lifeless body was discovered in a kennel after a flight from London to Chicago.

    In this May 8, 2017 file photo, attorney Guy Cook speaks a news conference while looking at a photo of Simon, a giant rabbit that died after flying from the United Kingdom to Chicago, in Des Moines, Iowa. A group of Iowa businessmen have filed a lawsuit against United Airlines over the death of Simon. The businessmen filed the lawsuit Wednesday, July 26, 2017, more than three months after airline workers found the continental rabbit named Simon dead. [AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall]
  3. Elderly Brooksville woman dies in Wednesday crash


    BROOKSVILLE — An 87-year-old woman died following a Wednesday morning car crash, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  4. As Dow hits new high, Raymond James Financial reports record financial gains


    On the same day that the Dow closed at new highs, investment firm Raymond James Financial reported record revenues and earnings for its fiscal third quarter that ended June 30.

    Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly unveiled record quarterly revenues and earnings for the St. Petersburg-based investment firm. [Courtesy of Raymond James Financial]
  5. 5 things to know about the Senate's bid to unwind the Affordable Care Act


    Senate Republicans undertook the first steps in their plan to repeal the Affordable Care this week, launching a process they hope will yield a GOP health-care bill by week's end.

    Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., talks with reporters as he walks to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in Washington. Corker was one of nine republican senators to vote against the health care bill in the Senate. The U.S. Senate will continue debate on the Better Care Reconciliation Act. [Photo by Justin Sullivan | Getty Images]