Orfordville holds recall election for village president who already resigned

Dennis Burtness

ORFORDVILLE, Wis. — Dennis Burtness couldn’t have asked for an easier election.

Burtness, who was appointed Orfordville village president this spring, ran in a unique recall election Tuesday. Residents petitioned for the election earlier this year in a bid to oust Burtness’ predecessor, Gary Phillips. Phillips resigned in April, but the city still had to hold the election.

“The easiest way to put it is, the train has left the station so they have to run the election,” Rock County Clerk Lisa Tollefson said.

Burtness was the only person on the ballot, and there were no registered write-ins. He only needed one vote to win — a vote that he could cast for himself. Still, state law mandated that Tollefson and her staff treat Tuesday like any other election.

“We actually conferred with the Election Commission just to verify and it was like, ‘Nope, you have to run the election,’” she said. “We were kind of hoping we didn’t have to, but those laws are there for a reason.”

Unofficial results posted shortly before 8:30 p.m. showed Burtness received 75 of the 77 votes cast. One vote went to a write-in candidate and one was an undervote.

With the race seemingly a foregone conclusion, turnout was expected to be low — unofficial results pegged it at just over 9% of the village’s 852 registered voters.

But with major elections coming up this fall, it was a perfect time for Tollefson’s staff to prepare.

We have two more elections and we’re going to need more poll workers,” she said. “It’s a great way to do some training to get things going.”

Polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday and closed at 8 p.m., just like any other election.

Burtness will serve until the end of term and will be up for re-election in April 2023 should he choose to run again.