Only Three Votes Count

Just read about a tiny town in north eastern Idaho that’s got a ‘big’ election coming up. Clayton, Idaho bills itself as “The Town That Refuses to Die!”

Vote-Counts1The population sign reads “7” and there’s going to be an election next week to fill the mayoral position and three city seats.

Guess that means that only three votes count if four of the people vote for themselves. 🙂

This is a fun read and a bit of Americana…


CLAYTON, Idaho – On Tuesday, voters around the state head to the polls to weigh in on mayoral and city council races, and the tiny central Idaho town of Clayton is no exception.

Clayton, with an official population of seven as of the 2010 census, is looking to elect four people to city seats.


Set snugly against the Salmon River and in the shadows of the Sawtooth Mountains, Clayton was founded in 1881 as a mining community. It was once home to a couple hundred residents. Now it’s the second smallest city in the state.

The sign on the edge of town puts Clayton’s population at seven, although there are about a dozen registered voters. Still, a big drop from the 2000 census when 27 people called the town home.

“We had a couple get divorced and the lady left town and crossed out 27 and made it 26,” said resident Cheryl Baker, who is also in charge of the town’s election.


“We’re going to elect a mayor and three council members,” she said.

That means about a third of the population will be running the one-road town, which is how it’s been for the last decade or so. But it hasn’t always run smoothly.

“Everything had just fallen apart here,” said Bill Odom, Clayton’s city clerk.

Within the last two years, the city in the center of Custer County has had two mayors resign, leaving Clayton without a governing body.

That is, until Wendi McKnight was asked to step up.

“I’m the only one that’s dumb enough to do it,” said McKnight, Clayton’s interim mayor.

So the owner and operator of the Liar’s Lounge is looking to extend her mayoral term in what is strictly a write-in election.


“Well, if one person gets one vote and nobody else, then they’ve got it, so, it’s pretty simple,” said Odom, who has only been city clerk since September.

He took on the job for two reason:

“One, was they desperately need one and, secondly, because I stepped in a trap and got caught,” said Odom.

While it seems all who hold office here do so reluctantly, that’s not exactly the case. They do it to keep the city a city.

“If there’s no mayor, and there’s no council then we go to county and we don’t want to go to county,” said McKnight.

So this election is pretty important.


“It is a very big deal, you betcha,” said Odom. “This is a funky little town that we are trying to keep alive”

Even if it’s not really hotly contested.

“It’s not hotly contested that’s for sure,” said Baker. “What’s hot about it is if you’re picked, you’re stuck, you gotta come.”


6 thoughts on “Only Three Votes Count”

  1. If that’s the 2nd smallest city in the state, how small is the other one? It reminds me of the I Love Lucy episode where the gas station owner was the hotel owner, the bellhop, the justice of the peace….

    The “you betcha” made me think of Fargo. Is that a common saying in Idaho?

    1. I haven’t heard anyone say “you betcha” in Idaho. The only thing we’ve noticed is how many couples hold hands while walking. Amazing! Even in Home Depot.

      Idaho has more than 100 towns with populations below 1,000. Three of the smallest are Warm River (pop. 3) and Drummond (pop. 16), both in Fremont County, and Clayton (pop. 7) in Custer County.

Comments are closed.