Nearly 125,000 votes already cast in Pinellas County special election

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Nearly 125,000 people have already voted in Pinellas County's special election to fill the late Congressman Bill Young's seat, according to figures released Monday.

Nancy Whitlock, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, said that as of Sunday night, a total of 26 percent of the eligible voters in the 13th Congressional District have voted. The district comprises much of Pinellas County along Florida's Gulf Coast, with the exception of the city of Tarpon Springs and a portion of downtown St. Petersburg.

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Whitlock noted that two days before the Jan. 11 primary for the congressional race, a total of 18.7 percent of the voters had turned out.

She said that the turnout is also greater than the last special congressional election in Florida, which was held in April 2010 in the Fort Myers area. During that election for the 19th Congressional District seat, 15.2 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, she said.

The race has garnered national attention. The district is considered a tossup between the two major political parties, and ads for Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly have inundated mailboxes and airwaves in recent weeks.

The race has also drawn millions in outside money. According to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, groups such as political action committees and conventional party committees have spent a total of $8.8 million on the race in 2014 as of Monday.

The candidates have also raised millions of dollars. Sink raised $2.5 million and Jolly $1 million, according to the nonpartisan research group.

Both Democrats and Republicans are road-testing strategies in this race, in hopes of figuring out what will work in campaigns across the country during November's midterm elections.

A third candidate, Libertarian Lucas Overby, is also running.

A total of 119,797 people have returned mail-in ballots. Another 5,252 people voted early in person between March 1 and March 9. About 2,700 of those early and mail-in votes were cast for the Tarpon Springs municipal election only.

Voting will also be held Tuesday.

As of Sunday, 63 percent of the registered Republicans who had requested mail-in ballots had returned them, while 61 percent of the Democrats had. A total of 79,001 Republicans requested ballots by mail, while 72,423 Democrats and 43,501 voters registered as independents or to other parties had requested the mailed ballots, according to the Pinellas election supervisor's office.

During early voting, which was held March 1-9, 5,231 votes were cast in the congressional race. Thirty-eight percent of those votes were from registered Republicans and 46 percent were from Democrats.


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