A trio of small towns in a remote corner of New Hampshire cast the first election day ballots for US president early Tuesday, with Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton 32 to 25 in the overall count.
The three communities’ small handful of residents voted at the stroke of midnight, in an quadrennial election ritual that goes back to the first half of the 20th century.
Members of the media far outnumbered the eight eligible voters in Dixville Notch, nestled in New Hampshire’s Great North Woods about 30 kilometres from Canada.
Clinton, the Democratic Party’s nominee, beat Republican Trump four votes to two in Dixville Notch. She also scored a 17 to 14 victory in Hart’s Location, a town with a population of about 40 people.
But the real estate mogul trounced Clinton 16 votes to four in Millsfield, a few kilometers south of Dixville Notch. It was the fist time the community had held such a vote in decades. The electoral law in the New England state allows communities of fewer than 100 people to open their polls at midnight, in what’s become a proud tradition for their residents.
The event garners headlines and curiosity each election cycle, even if it isn’t considered predictive of how residents of the rest of the small north-eastern state will vote during the daytime hours. New Hampshire has four Electoral College votes and is described as a toss-up state this election, with Trump and Clinton seen as running neck-and-neck.
Dixville Notch organized its first midnight poll at the Balsams Resort in 1960, where it still takes place today. That first year all nine participants went for Republican candidate Richard Nixon over John F Kennedy, the Democratic Party contender who won the White House, proving from the start that while the towns may vote first, they don’t necessarily pick the winners.
More than four decades later, the vote gets so much attention the town has a public relations officer to help the dozens of reporters who descend from around the world every four years.
This year in Dixville Notch, the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson received one vote while Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republian presidential candidate, collected a write-in vote.
In Millsfield, one voter wrote in the name of Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate in the primaries who lost the nomination to Clinton.