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Voter turnout for tiny North Dakota town: Zero

Pillsbury Mayor Darrel Brudevold said voter turnout in the city's primary election usually is fairly high.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Pillsbury Mayor Darrel Brudevold said voter turnout in the city's primary election usually is fairly high.

"I dare say a half-dozen people usually make it to the polls," he said. That represents about a quarter of the residents in the Barnes County farming community, in southeastern North Dakota.

But on June 10, no one showed up. Not even those on the ballot.

Brudevold ran unopposed for re-election. His wife, Ruth, and Dan Lindseth faced no challengers for their alderman seats.

"Everybody has got a job and they're busy," Brudevold said. "It just worked out that nobody seemed to go down there to the polls."

Only about 11 people live in Pillsbury proper, and the remainder of the residents live on farms outside the city. There is no precinct in town, so residents must drive about 12 miles to neighboring Sibley to cast their votes.

Brudevold's wife, Ruth, runs the beauty shop and is the town's postmaster. She said she was too busy with work to make it to the polls.

What to do when nobody votes?
Brudevold said he intended to vote, but that he had crops to tend.

He said he assumed at least one person would show up to vote. But since no one did, Brudevold said he'll ask state election officials what to do next.

Brudevold, who has been mayor for a dozen years and was an alderman before that, said he doesn't think the current five-member body will change.

Barnes County Auditor Ed McGough said those in office can stay there and appoint people, including themselves, to the jobs until the next election.

"I presume things will stay the same," Brudevold said. "We're just a little village, and when you're elected to one of those jobs, well, once you get it, you got it."

The council meets about five times a year, Brudevold said. Members are each paid $48 annually, and a good portion of that goes for doughnuts at the meetings or gas to get there, he said.

Brudevold said he has no need for a gavel because attendance at the meetings is lackluster at best.

"Not everybody usually makes it to the meetings, so it really doesn't get out of hand," he said. "The only time we really get people to show up is when we want to raise taxes — then everybody shows up."