Chesterton Tribune

Election officials report low early voter turnout; poll workers needed

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Early voting numbers indicate Porter County’s registered voters are not as energized as they were in the 2008 presidential election according to Voters Registration Directors Democrat Kathy Kozuszek and Republican Sundae Schoon.

The pair reported to the County Election Board that approximately 570 residents have voted since early and absentee voting began on April 9 for the 2012 primary elections, and that total turnout is not likely to come anywhere close to the 17,000 voters seen in the 2008 primary.

Kozuszek said she cannot explain why there is such a difference this year given the 23 contested races on the Republican ticket, which besides county races includes presidential, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, Governor, state representatives and a few state senators. Democrats have only five contested races on their ballots which include one county commissioner race, a county council at-large race and a few state convention delegate races.

Out of the county’s three locations for early voting, Schoon said the new Chesterton site has seen the highest volume because of the Duneland Schools referendum. Many voters there are voting strictly on the referendum rather than casting a party ballot because it’s something that they know will affect them, Kozuszek said.

Kozuszek said she has heard many people say “my vote doesn’t count” which she said is not true because during last year’s municipal elections a 16-year incumbent on the Portage City Council was defeated by a single vote.

Nonetheless, the board anticipates the overall turnout will be weak at the county’s 126 voting precincts.

“It’s going to be bad this year,” said Democratic election board member J.J. Stankiewicz.

The county spent a total of $45,000 on the cost of printing and coding the ballots regardless of what the turnout may be. Kozuszek said county taxpayers “might as well come out and use their money” for a good cause.

As required by state regulations, the election board successfully tested 12 voting machines Friday which is 10 percent of what will be used at the polls on Primary Election Day, May 8.

In another matter, Board president and Republican member Patrick Lyp informed his peers he works in the same office as one of the Republican candidates for Porter County Council at-large, Ethan Lowe, and would recuse himself if need be should a matter come up involving Lowe’s placement on the ballot.

Early voting continues until noon on May 7. Locations and times include the Porter County Administration Building (155 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso) in Room 105 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; the county’s North Complex in Portage (3560 Williowcreek Road) from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; and the Chesterton Town Hall (790 Broadway) from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The county administration building will have early voting the two Saturdays before the election, April 28 and May 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Poll Worker Classes

Kozuszek and Schoon said they are hoping the number of poll workers for the May 8 election will improve. There are still plenty of chances to sign up for an instruction class this next week. All workers are required to attend at least one class.

The schedule of classes is as follows: Monday, April 23 (10 a.m.), Tuesday, April 24 (10 a.m., 2 p.m.), Wednesday, April 25 (2 p.m.), Thursday, April 26 (6 p.m.), Saturday, April 28 (2 p.m.), Tuesday, May 1 (10 a.m., 6 p.m.) and Wednesday, May 2 (2 p.m.).

All sessions will be held in Room 205 of the Porter County Administration Building.

Poll judges and clerks will receive a stipend of $110 for their work and inspectors will receive $135. Each worker will receive a $15 meal voucher.

The election board has approved 16 year-olds and 17 year-olds to work as poll judges and clerks as long they have written permission from their schools.

Anyone interested in being a worker should call the voters registration office at 465-3496 or 465-3594.

 

Posted 4/20/2012