Politics

Sanders, Kasich win first N.H. votes in Dixville Notch, Hart’s Location

Resident Jeff Stevens (center) cast the first vote shortly after midnight in Dixville Notch, N.H.

Mike Segar/Reuters

Resident Jeff Stevens (center) cast the first vote shortly after midnight in Dixville Notch, N.H.

DIXVILLE, N.H. — Bernie Sanders and John Kasich picked up the most votes as the first ballots of the first-in-the-nation primary were cast early Tuesday.

Sanders won over all four Democratic voters in the tiny town of Dixville, while Kasich sneaked past Donald Trump, 3-2, among Republicans.

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Under New Hampshire state law, communities with fewer than 100 voters can get permission to open their polls at midnight and close them as soon as all registered voters have cast their ballots. While that happened in three locations, Dixville traditionally gets most of the spotlight due to its media-friendly setup at the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel.

Located about 20 miles from the Canadian border, Dixville exists as a town only for voting purposes. Almost all of its nine voters are employees of the hotel, which closed in 2011 but is currently undergoing a major overhaul under new owners.

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Former owner Neil Tillotson started the midnight voting tradition in 1960, likely at the suggestion of a news photographer looking for an advantage in getting his pictures out to newspapers ahead of his rivals. For many years, voters cast their ballots in individual booths in the hotel’s posh ballot room. Because of the renovations, the nine current residents voted in another building on the property, the Hale House.

In 2012, there was a tie for first place on the Republican side, with Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman getting two votes apiece. All three Democrats voted for Obama.

Hart’s Location, about 80 miles south of Dixville, first hosted midnight voting in 1948 but gave it up after the 1964 election when residents grew weary of the late hours and media frenzy every four years. Energized with new blood, town residents revived the tradition in 1996, and this year, the town has 41 registered voters.

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According to results posted on Hart’s Location’s website, Kasich led the Republican candidates with five votes, Trump finished with four votes, and Christie garnered two votes. Jeb Bush, Ben Cardon, and Marco Rubio each had one vote. On the Democratic side, Sanders led with 12 votes, Clinton had seven votes, and Mark Stewart Greenstein had two votes.

Millsfield is also making a comeback this year, though it’s unclear just when the town last voted at midnight or when its tradition started. According to a 1952 article in Time magazine, eight residents voted at midnight during the general election. This year, there are 22 registered voters.

In Millsfield, Ted Cruz reportedly led the Republican pack with nine votes. Trump came in second with three votes, and Kasich, Bush, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio each had one vote. For the Democrats, Clinton saw two votes and Sanders had one vote.

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