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Election morning turnout very low

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Three hours into Election Day voter turnout was at a trickle. According to a volunteer with the Will Newton campaign, only a handful of voters had shown up to cast a ballot at the Thomas “Jet” Jackson Recreation Center – or what used to be Wildwood.

And according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of elections office, voter turnout at the polls so far was just 0.51 percent as of 10 a.m.

Candidates are focused on sticking to the phones to urge voter turnout throughout the day. They are reserving volunteer efforts and even those of the candidates for peak polling times at voting locations.

Sign wavers were on hand for candidates in the early morning hours and will be back out again as voters head to the polls after work.

As of Tuesday morning, 1,993 vote-by-mail ballots had been returned of the more than 6,000 requested. That total brings turnout as of 10 a.m. to 10.93 percent.

Polling places are open until 7 this evening at various churches and recreation centers across District 7. Only those in the District are voting in this election.

The top two vote-getters among Lisa Wheeler-Brown, Sheila Scott-Griffin, Will Newton, Aaron Sharpe and Lewis Stephens will move on to the citywide General Election on November 3.

Candidates will be heading to various party locations Tuesday evening to watch the election results roll in. Newton will be celebrating at Sylvia’s Soul Food. Wheeler-Brown will celebrate with supporters at Parker Financial Services. Sharpe will be on the other side of town at Paulo’s on Central Avenue and Scott-Griffin will greet supporters at Beef O’Brady’s in South St. Pete on 34th Street. Stephens did not indicate where he would be watching results.

The election is expected to be a three-way battle between Newton, Wheeler-Brown and Scott-Griffin.

Follow reporter Janelle Irwin on Twitter @JanelleIrwinFL for up-to-the-minute updates as results roll in and check pack to SaintPetersblog regularly throughout Election Day to keep tabs on what’s happening.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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