Porter County residents queue up to cast ballots
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent November 5, 2012 5:28PM
Charlene Cox carries her ballot from the voting booth after voting early at the Porter Count government center in Valparaiso Monday Nov. 5, 2012. Cox, of Valparaiso, said she waited approximately 40 minutes in line before being allowed to vote. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 5, 2012 10:15PM
VALPARAISO — Less than 24 hours before the polls opened for Election Day, a line of would-be voters snaked out of the Porter County Voter Registration Office Monday morning as the clock ticked toward the end of early voting at noon.
The last-minute early voters — an oxymoron if there ever was one — endured a 40-minute wait for an assortment of reasons but in total, along with early voters at satellite sites in Portage and Chesterton, possibly put the 2012 general election ahead of 2008 for absentee ballots.
“I just love that we have that luxury of making sure our vote gets done,” said Chris Steele, of Valparaiso, who has voted early in the past three elections because she likes to anticipate whether her candidates will win and enjoys the satisfaction of knowing she’s already voted. “It’s also nice to be with people who take voting seriously. I’m just that generation that still thinks it’s an honor and a privilege.”
The county had more than 14,000 absentee ballots before early voting started Saturday, and totals for that day and Monday could push this year ahead of the 17,000 absentee ballots cast during the 2008 presidential election, said Sundae Schoon, the office’s Republican director. Final totals were not immediately available late Monday afternoon.
“It’s just a big election,” said Democrat director Kathryn Kozuszek, agreeing that 2012 could top 2008. The county also has more eligible voters, up to 114,000 from 100,000 four years ago, she added.
The office has been averaging 300 voters a day since early voting began on Oct. 9. The pace has caused some frayed nerves; some Saturday voters in Chesterton and Portage complained about the wait, Kozuszek said.
Tuesday may not be any better.
“We just ask that voters (Tuesday) have patience. They’re one out of 114,000,” she said.
Anyone who encounters problems at a polling place can call the office at 465-3635 or 465-3638.
As voter registration workers walked the line to collect picture ID’s from voters, Valparaiso resident Kathy Glade said she hadn’t planned on casting her ballot early.
“It was a combination of things. I wasn’t expecting a line here and depending on how long I stand here, I may wait until (Tuesday),” she said, adding she has to take a friend to the airport on Election Day and thought it would be easier to vote Monday.
Vickie Hoover, also of Valparaiso, planned on voting last week but didn’t get around to it. The Porter County Administration Building also is close to where she lives; she recently moved from Chesterton and her polling place is there.
“I thought the lines would be super long (Tuesday) and it would be raining,” she said, adding she was surprised by the line at the voter registration office, though it seemed to be moving, and at least her wait was inside.