The tiny village of Dixville Notch, N.H., will be casting the premier votes in the nation’s primary election Tuesday morning. Once every four years, the tiny town steps into the spotlight and becomes part of the pageantry of the American electoral process. It’s a tradition that has taken place as part of every presidential election since 1960.
Nine will vote Tuesday
The community’s nine registered voters — three Republicans, two Democrats and four undeclared — will gather and cast their ballots at midnight on Tuesday morning. The polls are expected to be open for less than a minute. The ballots will be counted immediately and announced to the nation amid much media presence.
Hotel under renovation
The Dixville Notch ballots have traditionally been cast at the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel. But this election just happened to fall at a time when the hotel is closed for renovations.
The hotel, which was owned by the locally prominent Tillotson family since 1954, was sold last year. But the hotel’s new owners have agreed to reopen for the event. Lodging, however, will not be provided for the anticipated media crush.
Rick Erwin, the town clerk, said:
“It’s great that they respect the tradition.”
Towns with fewer than 100 residents are allowed to hold midnight elections. The tradition was started in Dixville Notch in 1960 by Neil Tillotson, who owned a rubber plant as well as the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel. Because the nearest polling place was 50 miles away, Tillotson had the town incorporated for the purposes of holding elections.
The Dixville Notch presidential primary voting was covered by the AP and UPI during the 1964 primary election. Since then, the village has basked in the quadrennial media spotlight.
Predictor for GOP, not so much for Dems
The voters in Dixville Notch have correctly predicted every Republican candidate since 1968. The town has been less successful, however, in predicting Democratic candidates. In 2000, for example, the town’s voters picked Bill Bradley as the Democratic nominee. The nomination eventually went to Al Gore.
Barack Obama became the first Democrat to win the town’s vote pick for president since 1968. In that election, Obama received 15 of the town’s 21 votes.
Rival midnight elections
Registered voters in the town of Hart’s Location, N.H., will also cast their ballots at midnight on Tuesday. Hart’s Location started holding midnight elections in 1948. However, when it was buried under the media attention Dixville Notch received in 1964, the tradition was discontinued. It was revived in 1996, and now the two towns hold rival midnight elections and compete for bragging rights.
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