Clerks test voting machines in advance of Tuesday's primary electionSubmitted: 02/11/2016

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TOWN OF CRESCENT - Tracy Hartman usually does the work she did Thursday at the Crescent Town Hall alone.

"In my nine years, I've had somebody show up once," Hartman said.

But it's a job she knows hundreds of people count on her to do and get right.

"There's always pressure, yes," Hartman said.

Before every election, the Crescent Town Clerk runs a public test of the town's voting machines, which is required by state law.

"[Making sure the machine is] tallying it correctly, that the ballots are going through correctly and that the machines are working," Hartman said.

Hartman runs sample ballots through the traditional blue and white "Eagle" machine and the touch-screen :"Edge" unit. Some are filled out properly while others have errors like a double vote. Then, she cross-checks the results against her edit list.

"On election day, I'll be a little stressed the morning of, making sure the machine is right and that night, when you tally it, it s always a little [unnerving]," Hartman said. "It's technology. Something can always go wrong.

Voters get up to three tries to properly fill out a ballot on election day. If the ballot still has an error after those attempts, only the properly marked races will count.

So far, that technology has worked pretty well. Hartman says clerks have caught mistakes on printed ballots before elections and her workers have made counting errors, but on election days the machines pass the test.

"We have not had the machine mess up yet," Hartman said.

The clerk will spend the next few days going over training with her poll workers, focusing especially on the return of voter ID.

She'll then spend all day Tuesday working the polls and Tuesday night tabulating results and sending to the county clerk.

"Probably one of my favorite parts of this job is being a part of that and knowing that we had a part in who's elected and who gets to go on," Hartman said.

Even though that's left up to voters Hartman won t leave anything she can control up to chance.

"These machines are going to work on Tuesday," Hartman laughed.

Hartman says February primaries usually don't get great turnout (one election had just 20 Crescent voters out of more than 1400 registered ones show up), but with the School District of Rhinelander running a referendum this Tuesday, she expects voter turnout above 50 percent.

Story By: Lane Kimble

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