Requests for absentee ballots in next Tuesday’s special US Senate election have slipped 22 percent from the January 2010 special election, Secretary of State William F. Galvin said Thursday.

Galvin’s office said he was “extremely concerned” about the level of voter participation in the race between Democratic nominee Edward J. Markey and Republican Gabriel E. Gomez.

As of Thursday, 49,748 voters had filed for absentee ballots, down from 63,610 the week before the 2010 election between Scott P. Brown and Attorney General Martha Coakley.

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Galvin said that other high-profile news stories and the onset of summer had likely crowded out the state’s top political story.

“With many people focused on the Bruins playing in the Stanley Cup Final, the Bulger trial, and the end of the school year, the Special Election has a lot of competition for attention,” Galvin said in a press release.

The deadline to apply for absentee ballots is Monday at noon, with voters able to apply and vote at their local election offices. On Election Day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.