CROWN POINT | Lake County voters already are turning out to vote, election officials said Monday.
Sally LaSota, county elections board director, said 5,288 voters have cast ballots in person or by e-mail or traditional mail since early voting opened Oct. 9 for the fall general election.
Walk-in traffic was heaviest Friday at the election board's main office in Crown Point where 266 voted. The satellite voting center in St. John hosted 150 voters.
There were 92 in Gary, 75 in Hammond, 47 in East Chicago and 46 in Winfield, LaSota said. The rest were mail-in ballots from local residents and e-mails from overseas voters, she said.
The contest between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney is pushing the surge, but LaSota said Monday it was unclear whether voting was as heavy as four years ago when Obama faced Republican John McCain.
"You can't really compare these numbers with four years ago because we were only open for 10 days in 2008," she said.
The Republican Party sued the county that year to bar the satellite voting centers in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago from opening. The GOP contended multiple voting sites increased the possibility of vote fraud.
Democrats successfully argued in court the satellite locations were in the public interest, providing better access to the polls in three minority communities.
This year, early voting is scheduled to run for 21 days before the Nov. 6 election.
LaSota said the number of people registered to vote has risen since 2008 from 304,512 to more than 336,000.
Early voting is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays in the Lake County Board of Elections and Registration office, 2293 N. Main St., Crown Point, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at five satellite locations: the St. John Township assessor's office, 9155 U.S. 41, St. John; the Winfield Township trustee's office, 10645 Randolph St., Winfield; and the county courthouses at 3711 Main St., East Chicago; 15 W. Fourth Ave., Gary; and 232 Russell St., Hammond.
Special weekend voting periods are scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 27 and Nov. 3 in Crown Point, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the same dates at the five satellite locations.
The final day of early voting is from 8:30 a.m. to noon Nov. 5 in Crown Point and from 9 a.m. to noon at the satellite sites.