First Ballots In US Polling Cast At Midnight

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 File Photo
File Photo

Washington: The first ballots in the US presidential polls were cast in a sleepy hamlet in New Hampshire, traditionally the first in the nation to vote on Election Day, with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton winning the contest.

Hillary registered her first ‘win’ in the 2016 elections by four votes to two against her Republican rival Donald Trump soon after midnight in the remote northeastern part of the US. The first votes of the election were cast, just after midnight, by the residents of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire.

Hillary captured four of Dixville Notch’s eight votes while her Republican rival Trump received two, Libertarian Gary Johnson received one vote, and there was even one vote for Mitt Romney. Unlike in India, every US State counts and declares its result once the polling is over.

In the case of Dixville Notch it used the provision of New Hampshire which allows village and habitants of less than 100 to cast their ballot just beyond midnight. Dixville Notch has been voting at midnight every election since 1960.

The small hamlet having 12 registered votes has voted for Republican nominees in most of the elections since 1960 except for 2008 when it voted for Obama. In 2012, it was split equally between Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney.

In the primaries, Trump had lost to Ohio Governor John Kasich by two votes to three in voting at Dixville Notch. Neil Tillotson, the former owner of the Balsams Grant Resort Hotel, which closed in 2011, started midnight voting in Dixville in 1960 to stir up publicity for the resort. Almost all of the Dixville voters are employees of the resort.

Voters also cast ballots early today in two other small New Hampshire communities, Hart’s Location and Millsfield. Hart’s Location was the first town to begin the tradition of early voting in 1948.

According to the town’s website, it started when the town was “inhabited mostly by Maine Central Railroad workers and their families” and early voting became the most convenient way for them to vote.

The practice apparently garnered too much media attention for the folks of Hart’s Landing, however, and midnight voting was abandoned in 1964, “when residents became tired of all the media ruckus and voted to end it.”

Hart’s Landing revived the practice in 1996. The town website blames the 32-year lull in midnight voting as the reason Dixville Notch gets all the attention, even though Dixville began the practice more than a decade later than Hart’s Landing.

Millsfield, located just over 20 km down the road from Dixville Notch, is the newest town to get in on the act. (Agencies)

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