Some races lack candidatesSome area voters may see blank spots on their Tuesday ballots, as numerous towns have positions lacking candidates, including several park positions with no one running for the spots.
Some area voters may see blank spots on their Tuesday ballots, as numerous towns have positions lacking candidates, including several park positions with no one running for the spots.
Belfield, New England, Gladstone, Golva, Dodge and Halliday all have vacant park board and district positions, but no declared candidates.
New England City Auditor Jason Jung has witnessed several elections and said it is not uncommon to see its Park Board ballot have some vacancies.
“It doesn’t seem to be a real different trend from the past, but a little bit surprising that all three positions, that nobody is running in those spots,” Jung said. “Normally in Park Board there’s at least probably one that seems to have been empty in the last couple of elections.”
Filling the spots, however, doesn’t always prove difficult.
“We always seem to have some residents who are willing to step up and participate in the Park Board,” Jung said.
Often times, candidates for Park Board are written in during the voting process, Jung said.
“I think some people feel that if they get written in, it shows that the residents of New England really do indeed want that person for that position,” Jung said.
Such is the case for Golva.
“We only have a few people that vote and they figure everybody knows each other and they kind of get elected or put on the board by write-in,” said Golva City Auditor Bobbi Maus.
If a write-in candidate has more votes than the individual on the ballot, a write-in can still win, Jung said.
Jung said leaving a section blank on a ballot will not nullify the vote.
“In a lot of cases in small towns like this it ends up with somebody with maybe eight to 10 votes, write-in votes, could be the leading candidate,” Jung said.
But the write-in process can certainly yield some quirky results.
“Every election there’s half a dozen people that vote for Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and, you know, write any crazy thing and, you know, people that are dead in there,” said Terry Traynor, assistant director of policy and programs at the North Dakota Association of Counties.
If a position cannot be filled, it is declared vacant by a County Commission and the North Dakota Century Code has outlined a process on how to fill the position until the next election, he said.
A town’s size could be cause for so few park board candidates.
Elaine Noll of Golva, who serves on the Golva Park Board, said the town’s size doesn’t warrant much work on its park.
“Our park is so small there’s really nothing to it,” Noll said. “It just needs to be mowed. I kind of forgot I was even on the board, to tell you the truth.”
If there are no write-ins, a park board can then appoint an individual to fill the position.
“It’s much easier, of course, in a smaller community to run as a write-in because people know people and they know who’s interested in serving,” said Jerry Hjelmstad, deputy director of the North Dakota League of Cities.
New England is not alone in its ballot’s blankness for park board candidates.
Dodge has no candidates declared for its two vacant Park Board positions and Halliday has no candidates for its three open positions.
While a few towns have no park board candidates, some do not have enough.
Mott also will see a similar issue with three positions open on its Park Board, but only two candidates declared.
The same goes for Regent — three open positions with only two candidates.
Hettinger has three positions open on its Park Board and only one declared candidate.
Adams County Auditor Patricia Carroll said the situation happens occasionally.
“We’ve been pretty lucky in Hettinger city, able to get a full slate of candidates,” Carroll said. “I think the last two elections though now we’ve had a problem getting people to run. I think we’re too short this time on the Park District.
“Typically it is kind of a problem in smaller towns to get people to run for that position.”
Area ballots that do not have enough people running for park boards and districts:
Belfield: Two positions, no declared candidates
New England: (Park District) Three positions, no declared candidates
Gladstone: Two positions, no declared candidates
Golva: Two positions, no declared candidates
Dodge: Two positions, no declared candidates
Halliday: Three positions, no declared candidates
New Salem: Three positions, two declared candidates
Hettinger: Three positions, one declared candidate
Regent: (Park District) Three positions, two declared candidates
Mott: (Park District) Three positions, two declared candidates