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Republicans favored in early balloting

Unofficial absentee and early voter ballots show Republicans with a slight edge over Democrats as the House District 36 race enters its final hours.

Ballots cast the past couple of weeks won't be opened until after the polls close Tuesday night.

But of the total number of absentee and early voter ballots cast this election, 4,676 were cast by Republicans, which could indicate an edge for Republican Bill Gunter over his rival, Democrat Amanda Murphy.

Democrats cast 4,339 votes in absentee and early balloting -- or 337 fewer votes than cast by Republicans.

Still unknown is how the 1,729 independents voted.

With a high concentration of independents in the west Pasco district, they could swing the election depending on turnout.

Of district's 94,904 registered voters, 21,199 are listed as "no party affiliation" and 6,369 are registered as "other," meaning they belong to political party other than the Democratic or Republican parties.

The district's Democrats, meanwhile, outnumber Republicans 34,875 to 32,461.

Elections Supervisor Brian Corley said the 10,744 ballots cast in early balloting indicates "a pretty good" turnout.

The polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.