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Tar Heel voters write in candidates on empty ballot

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TAR HEEL, NC (WWAY) -- Polls are open, but the ballots are empty in one Bladen County town. None of Tar Heel's 117 residents filed to fill three town council spots and the mayor's office.

"The Town of Tar Heel is not a joke," Mayor Ricky Martin said. "We've been laughed at that nobody filed, but one of the things we want to show is we're going to take care of our town. Write-in votes are things that have happened here in the past. They'll continue to happen, because we're not politics."

Martin has served as mayor for two years. He says a couple of reasons the ballots are empty are because people either were not sure if they wanted to run back in july or they missed the date to apply.

When the residents of Tar Heel showed up to the polls to vote, they were presented with a blank ballot, but seven write-in candidates have stepped up to fill the four town council spots.

Paulette Tanner has been on the council before and is running again. She thinks no one signed up to be on the ballot because people assumed the same council would stay in place. She decided to step up when she realized that the town could possibly be left without leaders.

"There's some issues about the town and getting it lined up like it should be," Tanner said. "There are some places we want in the town. Then there's some issues about getting cleaned up a little bit."

Despite the lack of names on the ballot, most of the 86 registered voters in Tar Heel showed up to write in their favorite candidates for the three council spots and mayor.

"It's going real well," voter Eleanor Cunningham said at midday. "People have come on out. They're concerned about our area, and they're proud of it as well. I think we're going to have a good turnout."

Martin said, "The Town of Tar Heel is small. We're tight knit, and we take care of ourselves. We're very rural, and rural people kind of stick together."

Martin said although some candidates decide late to run, the size of the town makes it easy to campaign in just one day.

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