VALPARAISO | Less than 1 percent of eligible voters in Porter County had cast ballots by Thursday afternoon as the early voting portion of the May 6 primary election winds down, according to election officials.
"It's been very slow, said Sundae Schoon, the Republican director at the county voter registration office.
Schoon said 910 ballots had been cast by Thursday, including 546 voters at sites in Valparaiso, Chesterton and Portage, and another 252 ballots received by mail. There are 117,000 registered voters in the county.
This year's turnout is lower than the last comparable primary election four years ago, according to figures provided by the voter registration office. That 2010 election drew 1,153 voters by May 1 and ended with 1,255 ballots cast.
Kathy Kozuszek, who serves as the Democratic director at the Porter County Voter Registration Office, said the low number of contested races among Democrats is partly to blame for the low voter turnout.
"You're going to see that number jump in the fall," she said.
Democrats have just one primary race at the county level for sheriff, while Republicans have a race for county commissioner and three County Council nominations.
Voters also are deterred from the primaries because they don't like the requirement of having to declare themselves as a Republican or Democrat, Kozuszek said.
Schoon said she is further troubled by the low voter turnout when considering the primary election will cost taxpayers more than $100,000.
"It costs that amount whether 1 percent or 100 percent vote," she said. "It's very sad."
Early voting wraps up at noon Monday, Schoon said. Voting will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the county courthouses in Valparaiso and Portage and at the Chesterton Town Hall.