Call it superstition but some Moffat County officials think a smooth-running election hinges on the good vibes sent to the vote counting machine.
In fact the bulky, 11-year-old vote counter that lives most of every year hidden under a tarp in courthouse tells a visual tale of the goodwill sent its way each voting season. The red lipstick marks lining its side represent a kiss per election year -- and the trick hasn't failed yet.
"I love this machine," said Moffat County Clerk Elaine Sullivan, giving it a quick hug. "I'm a firm believer in kissing it. I call it preventive maintenance."
Actually, election officials call the machine "Dan" after qualified maintenance worker Dan Pick first ironed out the machine's bugs.
"Dan" replaced the county's antiquated system in 1992. It's the county's "first piece of modern voting equipment" and Sullivan said she's been happy with it so far. It counts the results of about 100 ballots per aminute but gets a little "picky" with absentee ballots because of the folds.
This year, election officials spent at least three months in preparation for today's election. Election judges have been busy for the last couple of weeks sorting and preparing early and absentee votes. As of Monday morning, about 900 ballots had been cast.
This year, the number of election judges are down to 21 from a whopping 72 last year. It makes the job that much harder on the workers but some trinkets help them along. This year, chap stick labeled with a kiss, of course, reads "Kiss Me, I'm an election judge." In the past, the saying adorned pins and buttons worn by judges.
Sullivan said the results of today's election should be wrapped up between 9 and 10 p.m. Those results will be updated periodically tonight on the Craig Daily Press Web site as results for area precincts are finalized.
According to the Election Data Service of Washington, D.C., three companies control the U.S. voting technology market. The largest voting technology firm counted 52 percent of the votes cast in elections last year.
Lila Herod, chief deputy of county elections, remembered that one year bands in the machine broke during vote counting but the situation was quickly fixed. Still, she joked that even saying that around "Dan" might jinx it and quickly "knocked on wood" or rather on the machine's hard plastic.
Before Sullivan pulled the plastic tarp over the voting machine that would come off again tonight, she issued a little pep talk.
"OK baby, tonight's your night," she said.