Voter turnout barely enters double digits on the eve of Pasco House Special Election
Kelly Smith faces Randy Maggard in the House District 38 Special Election.

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Most of the ballots cast, 5,553, were by Republicans.

Pasco County voters will hit the polls Tuesday to elect a new member to the Florida House of Representatives after going without representation in this year’s Legislative Session.

With early voting closed, a little more than 10 percent of eligible voters have cast a ballot in the race between Republican Randy Maggard and Democrat Kelly Smith. Nearly 11,000 voters cast a ballot by mail while another nearly 1,100 voted early.

The district has nearly 119,000 registered voters.

Most of the ballots cast, 5,553, were by Republicans. Only 4,366 Democrats have cast a ballot so far in the conservative district. Another nearly 2,100 no party and third party affiliated voters cast a ballot in the race.

The Special Election between Maggard and Smith is to replace former Rep. Danny Burgess who left office to head the Florida Department of Veteran’s Affairs as a Gov. Ron DeSantis appointee.

As a Republican, Maggard is the heavy favorite in the race. Burgess, also a Republican, first won the seat in 2014 by an overwhelming 20 percent. He ran unopposed two years later and then, last year, won in a landslide of more than 32 points.

Maggard is a Pasco native who works as the vice president of Sonny’s Discount Appliances, a position he has held for more than 30 years. He has served as the chair of the Pasco County Republican Party and the Zephyrhills Economic Development Board. He’s also a member of the Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board.

Smith is the Vice Chair of the Pasco County Democratic Executive Committee. The Wesley Chapel Democrat is an alumna of Southern Connecticut State University. She has lived in the Sunshine State since 1996, and in Pasco County since 2008. Outside of politics, her career includes public and private sector positions focusing on land use and transportation.

Polls open Tuesday at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. As with all elections, any voter in line at the polls by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote. A list of polling places is available on the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections’ website.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • The argument could be made that a low voter turnout means that only voters who truly care (one way or another) are deciding who will be elected. If you think about it, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

    In the alternative, actual voters who are grievously uninformed (or who decide on the basis of the alphabet who to vote for) could be considered a threat to the rest of us.

    So, please don’t flog us for not voting. (FYI, I cannot vote in this election, if only because I live near Fort Myers).

    Larry Gillis, Cape Coral

  • Joseph Brown

    June 18, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    We hear a lot these days about voter suppression. This is a clear case of voter self-suppression which, in my opinion, is the bigger problem. But it’s hard to launch a protest against it.

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