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Who will head to Washington isn't the only question left unanswered as Election Day in the District 19 special congressional election draws near.

Elections supervisors are on hold for turnout and what kind of reimbursement they'll see, too.

Tuesday's ballot includes Republican nominee Curt Clawson, Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Ray Netherwood.

The special election was set in January after Trey Radel resigned in the wake of his cocaine conviction and time in rehabilitation.

Soon after the special election was announced in January, Lee and Collier counties submitted their estimates of how much it would cost.

Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington estimated the primary and general special elections combined would cost her office about $1 million, she said.

Because District 19 includes most of Lee County, that's nearly what it would cost to run a regular election, she said.

"There were no discounts for a special," she said.

In Collier, where District 19 includes about a third of voters, the cost should be around $600,000, Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards said.

Both counties will be reimbursed by the state, but not until after the state does a detailed evaluation of the divisions' costs, so their actual reimbursement could change.

And, Harrington said, it can take a year or longer to get the money back.

Lee's and Collier's estimates are similar to a 2010 special election for the former District 19 seat, which at the time included Broward and Palm Beach counties.

That election — primary and general — cost Broward County about $602,000 and Palm Beach County about $825,550, according to data provided by state Division of Elections spokeswoman Brittany Lesser.

The cost for the state's most recent special congressional election — District 13, in Pinellas County — hasn't been calculated yet, she said.

Turnout

Though elections supervisors are pretty sure what their costs for Tuesday's election are, another number — voter turnout — is much less certain.

This election has a number of factors that make it difficult to predict, Edwards and Harrington said.

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The district hasn't had a similar election. And the time of year puts into question how many voters will turn up or send in mail-in ballots, since many have already left Southwest Florida for their summertime homes.

As of Friday, both counties' turnouts were around 16 percent, based on mail-in and early ballots.

"But that's gonna climb," Harrington said.

However, she isn't sure by how much.

While early voting has been much lower than she has seen in past elections, mail-in ballots have had a robust return.

Lee County received 4,581 early ballots. Early voting closed Saturday.

"It's very low. I couldn't find anything else that low," she said.

Mail-in ballot returns have been more robust.

As of Saturday 59,507 mail-in ballots were returned in Lee, according to the Division of Elections.

In the Republican primary for the special election, 33.38 percent of Lee's District 19 voters turned out.

Harrington hopes to see between 30 and 40 percent by the time the polls close Tuesday night, "but there's nothing really to compare it to," she said.

In Collier, Edwards believes there will be a turnout of 20-25 percent.

As of Saturday, 2,695 early votes and 15,131 mail-in ballots had been counted.

Collier's primary turnout was 37.47 percent.

"We just don't know," Edwards said.

Winner take all

A few things about the winner of Tuesday's District 19 election:

• Salary: All members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives (save those in leadership positions such as speaker of the House) make an annual salary of $174,000. But since the special election winner will take office mid-year, that amount will be prorated.

• Start date: The swearing-in date and first day in office for the winner won't be announced until after the election.

• Still running: This isn't the last time you'll see Curt Clawson, April Freeman and Ray Netherwood battle it out at the polls .All three candidates on the general special election ballot will appear again on the Nov. 4 general election ballot for the seat. Write-in candidate Timothy Rossano has also qualified for the November election.

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