Poll workers: 18.6 percent turnout shockingly low

2012-05-08T18:30:00Z 2012-05-09T00:18:44Z Poll workers: 18.6 percent turnout shockingly lowBy Lauri Harvey Keagle and Marisa Kwiatkowski Times Staff Writers nwitimes.com

Pat Kardos has been a precinct commiteewoman working the polls for more than 20 years. She saw something Tuesday morning she never has seen before.

"Usually, people are lined up out the door when we open, but there wasn't a soul there," Kardos said.

Kardos was among a host of workers at the polls at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point. Only a handful of voters trickled in during the 30 minutes after the polls opened.

Poll workers throughout Lake County said voter turnout during Tuesday's primary election was less than stellar, which also meant fewer voter complaints. Final turnout in the county was 18.6 percent of registered voters.

"In all the years I've been working elections, never ever was there one time where I had nothing (election-related) to do for hours," said Jim Wieser, Democratic attorney for the Lake County elections board. "I've never seen anything like this. It's just unbelievable."

Precinct inspector Carol McCormack worked a Sudoku puzzle at her polling location to pass the time. She said only 20 people had voted by late Tuesday morning at the Jean Shepherd Community Center in Hammond.

"I haven't seen it any slower than this," precinct inspector Anthony Nicks said late Tuesday morning as he surveyed the nearly empty Gary Area Career Center. Nicks said he has worked the polls for 30 years.

Campaign workers, who stand outside polling locations to encourage voters to choose a certain candidate, said voter turnout was steadier at several Gary elementary schools and Hammond churches.

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