Why Does Dixville Notch Vote First? These Towns Open Their Polls Before Anyone Else

Clerks tabulate ballots at a polling station just after midnight on November 8, 2016 in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, the first voting to take place in the 2016 US presidential election. The US presidential election got underway -- on a small scale -- as seven people in a tiny New Hampshire village cast their ballots at the stroke of midnight. Dixville Notch has had the honor of launching the voting, symbolically, since 1960. Clay Smith was the first of seven people to cast their ballots as Tuesday's long awaited Election Day began. An eighth resident voted by absentee ballot. / AFP / Alice Chiche (Photo credit should read ALICE CHICHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: ALICE CHICHE/AFP/Getty Images

Election Day begins early in rural New Hampshire. Dixville Notch is the most famous of three small communities where the polls open at midnight and close as soon as all registered voters have cast their ballots. But why does Dixville Notch vote first?

New Hampshire communities with less than 100 registered voters can open their polls at midnight, making Dixville Notch, Hart's Location, and Millsfield the first polling areas in the nation to finish casting their votes. Dixville Notch has been participating in the tradition every election since 1960, when Neil Tillotson, the former owner of the now-closed Balsams Grant Resort Hotel, started midnight voting to promote his resort, according to USA Today.

But which candidate won in Dixville Notch? The small hamlet leans conservative, with Obama becoming the first Democrat to ever win the town's vote in 2008. In 2012, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Obama tied with five votes each, Politico reported. The vote could have gone either way, but this presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton was the overall winner. Clinton won four votes, Republican Donald Trump won two, Libertarian Gary Johnson won one vote, and Romney won one vote as well, even though he isn't running. Superstitious voters are likely paying attention to the results of Dixville Notch's vote; the community has voted for the winner of three out of the last four presidential elections, CNN reported.

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Hart's Location is New Hampshire's smallest town, and it boasts 100 percent voter turnout, according to the town's website. Interestingly enough, Hart's Location actually began the midnight voting tradition in 1948, but it abandoned the practice until 1996, according to USA Today. Polls in the town opened at 12 a.m. and closed at 12:05 a.m. this Election Day. Clinton won in Hart's Location as well; she had a three-vote margin with Trump. Millsfield was the only township of the three to overwhelmingly vote for Trump; he won against Clinton 16 votes to four, Fox reported. With this, Trump leads Clinton slightly in New Hampshire, with 32 votes to her 25.

Unfortunately, Dixville Notch’s midnight voting tradition could end after this election. New England businessman Les Otten has purchased the Balsams resort and he plans to redevelop it massively, USA Today reported. If this brings Dixville Notch’s population above 100 people, the community will no longer be able to be the first to vote on Election Day. We'll have to wait and see whether Dixville Notch will be able to keep up its unique voting tradition.

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