CROWN POINT | Ballots by the thousands have showered down the mail chute and through the door, but Lake County election officials would like to see more.
Some 5,091 voters were counted last week, bringing the overall total — halfway through the early voting period this fall — to 10,378.
However, that pace appears to be falling short of the nearly 36,000 votes cast in the 2008 general election.
County records show an additional 3,576 people have requested that early paper ballots be mailed to them but have yet to be heard from.
"People may decide to not use their paper ballots and go to the polls or early vote," county election board Director Sally LaSota said. "We won't know until the deadline: Oct. 29, 11:59 p.m.
"But, people shouldn't be holding on to paper ballots. They should be voting them and sending them back because they cannot vote in person as long as that absentee ballot is looming over them."
Walk-in early voting is on the increase, LaSota said. Some 824 people voted at the county's Crown Point election board headquarters and satellite voting locations in Gary, Hammond, East Chicago, St. John and Winfield.
It would be extraordinary for current voting rates to be as high as the 70 percent turnout achieved in 2008, when the Democrats pulled out all the stops to elect President Barack Obama, LaSota said.
The county purchased more voting machines recently in case of another record showing Nov. 6.
However, LaSota warned last-minute voting brings its risks.
"I hope they would take advantage of voting this week and next week before Election Day. Because if you wait too long, about 300,000 people may also come out at the same time, and then everyone will be moaning and groaning about having to wait in line," LaSota said.