The election equipment hummed along as nicely as the heaters in the storage room of the Porter County Administration Building’s parking garage Friday as the county’s election board took the equipment for a mandatory test run before early voting for the primary starts Tuesday.
In all, members of the election board and Dennis Rzepka, an account manager with Election Systems and Software, which provides the equipment, tested 12 ballot-tallying machines, one for each of the county’s townships.
Under state statute, the county has to test 5 percent of the machines, Rzepka said, but with 123 precincts, Porter County tests about 10 percent.
Portable heaters in the aisles of the concrete storage room provided scant warmth as members of the election board fed pre-marked ballots through the machines and waited for them to produce a tickertape of the results.
“They are testing the equipment to ensure they’re in good working condition before conducting the election,” said board attorney Ethan Lowe.
With only a handful of contested races in the primary, including both the Democratic and Republican bids for coroner and the Republican run to represent District 1 on the county council, Clerk Karen Martin, one of two Republicans on the election board, does not expect strong turnout for early voting.
According to the Porter County Elections website, the 2015 primary drew 14.5 percent of registered voters.
Early voting takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., starting Tuesday and continuing on weekdays through May 4. It ends at noon on May 7. Early voting also takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on two Saturdays before the election, April 28 and May 5.
The county has five locations for early voting:
•Porter County Administration Building, Suite 102A, 155 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso.
•Chesterton Town Hall meeting room, 726 Broadway, Chesterton.
•North County Government Complex rotunda, 3560 Willowcreek Road, Portage.
•Union Township Volunteer Fire Station 2, 267 N. County Road 600 West, Valparaiso.
•Hebron Community Center, 611 N. Main St., Hebron.
Amy Lavalley is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.