CROWN POINT | Ethard McIlroy has worked on election day for years and estimates Tuesday's voter turnout could be one of the worst in years.
McIlroy, the inspector for Calumet Township's 4th Precinct, said 22 people had voted by 4 p.m. at the Calumet Township trustee's office.
"A lot of people lost interest," McIlroy said. "And people have to declare their party. About one-third didn't want to."
Voters in Tuesday's primary election were deciding candidates for November municipal, county and township races and a handful of state representative races.
Next door to McIlroy, Darlene Daniels, the inspector for the 10th Precinct in Calumet Township, said about 60 people had voted just before 4 p.m.
Though the trustee's office was raided by the FBI and IRS agents earlier this year, some voters said the race they were watching closely was the sheriff's race.
Robert Kachur, 30, of Calumet Township, said he wanted a sheriff that would protect his right to bear arms. He also wanted a sheriff who would "stand by the constitution and the county."
At Clark Middle School in St. John, about 130 people had voted by 2:30 p.m., said Nicole Cardinal, the inspector for the polling location. The school housed six precincts.
Jean Smith, 70, of St. John, said she was disappointed to see a low turnout.
"I think voting is one of the privileges and responsibilities that we Americans have," Smith said. "I'm always delighted to vote."
Voter turnout in Porter County was reportedly light with voters reporting few if any lines at most precincts. The turnout Tuesday mirrored the low voter turnout in early voting, which drew just over 1 percent of the voters.
On Tuesday at the Lake County Fairgrounds, Laverne Bormann, who has served as an election clerk for some 30 years, said she has seen voter turnout drop throughout the years and knows voters tend to stay away unless the gubernatorial or presidential races are on the ballot.
Joseph Martinez, a retired Hammond firefighter from Crown Point, was one of the few to show up early at the polls. He said he comes out for every election.
"I've been voting since I came out of the Marine Corps when I was very young," Martinez said. "Every year, less and less people vote and it hurts me. Look how many have died for us to have the freedom to vote."
Martinez said his parents came to the U.S. from Mexico and became citizens, earning the right to vote.
"It's a blessing and people take it for granted," Martinez said.
Don Lukes and his 10-year-old son, Ian, waited for the polls to officially open Tuesday at the Lake County Fairgrounds.
"Veterans fought for the right for us to vote," Lukes said.
"Like my grandpa fought in World War II," his son said.
Lukes said he sees Election Day as a chance to provide a hands-on civics lesson for Ian.
"He goes into the booth with me and we talk about why it is important," Lukes said.