Chesterton Tribune

Ayres asks election board to consider early voting location for Duneland

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Duneland School Board member, former state representative and retired teacher Ralph Ayres has asked the Porter County Election Board to open a satellite center for early voting in Duneland, saying it would be a convenience for those residents living in the northeast sections of the county.

Ayres wrote a letter of request for the board to consider the matter for the upcoming 2012 county and presidential elections and was quick to point out the Duneland area accounts for more than 25 percent of those living in the county.

“According to last year’s census figures, it is the fastest growing portion of Porter County,” said Ayres.

Chesterton and surrounding towns continue to grow with residents who commute to work in Chicago or other places, Ayres said. They, along with senior citizens, do not find it easy to make time to travel to the county’s centers for early voting.

The county holds early voting at its two complexes: the Porter County Administration Building in Valparaiso and the North Annex Building in Portage.

A third location will also benefit other residents by cutting down the lines at Valparaiso and Portage, Ayres said.

Long lines for early voting were common in the 2008 president election. Voter Registration Democrat Director Kathy Kozuszek said the county saw approximately 12,000 walk-in voters and 5,000 more through the mail. The same turnout is likely for next year as Porter County is one of the top counties in the state for voter turnout during a presidential election.

“I think that it is a trend to get people to vote early,” said Ayres.

Ayres said he has held informal discussions with various members of the Duneland community in regards to the satellite voting location and notified the election board when he saw the meeting notice in the Chesterton Tribune.

The exact location of where the potential site would be has not been decided but there are many possibilities such as a town hall building in Chesterton, Burns Harbor or Porter. Ayres originally suggested the Westchester Township Public Library but there may be time conflicts since the county’s hours do not synchronize with the library’s.

Even though no venue has officially brought forth interest in being the host for the voting center, election board members Patrick Lyp, J. J. Stankiewicz, and county clerk Karen Martin agreed a Duneland site for early voting is something worth pursuing.

“I think it is something we should do,” said Martin.

“It should be the goal of our local officials to make access to early voting as easy as possible during a presidential election year. I am sure local communities in the Duneland area would welcome the opportunity to provide such a facility to host an early voting site,” Ayres wrote in his letter. He also mentioned opening a Duneland center should be little to no cost for the county.

The board plans to discuss the matter further when they meet in December and will ask Ayres if he has found any place willing to provide space.

Ayres aims to work with the election board to secure a location before early voting for the 2012 primary elections begin in April.

 

Posted 11/21/2011