Kristy Loyd, a deputy clerk with the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's Office, sits to the left of John Ponikvar, a representative for the Moffat County Republican Central Committee, as the two enter test votes into the county's Hart InterCivic voting machines. The Clerk and Recorder's Office conducted a public election test to verify voting-machine accuracy ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

Photo by Collin Smith

Kristy Loyd, a deputy clerk with the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's Office, sits to the left of John Ponikvar, a representative for the Moffat County Republican Central Committee, as the two enter test votes into the county's Hart InterCivic voting machines. The Clerk and Recorder's Office conducted a public election test to verify voting-machine accuracy ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

Test election extended to today

Public participants not worried about errors

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You Decide: Election 2008

Craig Daily Press elections Web site - Moffat County's best resource for election news and resources.

www.craigdailypress.com/news/election_2008/

Election information

Registered voters can vote in the Nov. 4 general election in one of the following ways:

• Request a mail-in ballot. Residents may visit the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's Office at the County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way, and request an official ballot be mailed to their home address.

Deputy Clerk Stephanie Beckett said the county had received about six mailed ballots as of Thursday from local voters who already voted.

• Cast a ballot during early voting from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Oct. 20 to 31 at the County Courthouse.

• Vote on election day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at one of the following vote centers:

• Centennial Mall in Craig, 1111 W. Victory Way

• Maybell Community Center, 103 Ellis

• Dinosaur Town Hall, 333 S. Stegosaurus

Walker Criswell, 46, and John Ponikvar, 52, have spent the past few years helping the county test its election machines as respective Democratic and Republican representatives.

In that time, they have learned to have more faith in electronic machines.

"Absolutely," Ponikvar said. "I've always liked paper (ballots). It can be hard for people to accept this kind of change to the electronic stuff."

His curiosity about the process and electronic machines was part of why Ponikvar chose to participate in test elections.

"It's just an interesting thing," he said. "There's been so much controversy about these machines and the process lately, I guess I wanted to find out for myself."

So far, the only mistakes he and Walker have found have been their own, they said.

"That sort of gives us confidence," Ponikvar said with a laugh.

The Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's Office test for the Nov. 4 general election began Thursday night and will continue today. Normally, a test is finished within a night, but the Clerk and Recorder's Office extended this year's because of inconsistencies between hand tallies and machine counts.

Inconsistencies are not uncommon because of "over votes," Ponikvar said, which is when someone colors in more than the provided box for each candidate or ballot question answer on a paper ballot.

In a normal election, any ballot with an over vote would be taken aside immediately and examined, but they are all run together in a test. When there's a mistake, testers have to go through each of the more than 100 ballots filled out that night.

No one, the public participants included, felt voting machines were at fault, however.

"Every error we've had in the past has been a simple mistake by someone here," Walker said. "Odds are, yes, the machines worked."

He and Ponikvar added they have no concerns about the county's equipment that would cause them to doubt the upcoming election's legitimacy.

"I don't see any problem there," Ponikvar said. "We'll be back here tomorrow, and the women in the Clerk and Recorder's Office are going to work really hard until this is all done."

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