Two small towns cast their ballots as Election Day begins

A man tallies the votes from the five ballots cast just after midnight
A man tallies the votes from the five ballots cast just after midnight (AP)
6:51am, Tue 03 Nov 2020
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Two small New Hampshire communities that vote for president just after the stroke of midnight on Election Day have cast their ballots, with one of them marking 60 years since the tradition began.

The results in Dixville Notch, near the Canadian border, were a sweep for former Vice President Joe Biden who won the town’s five votes.

In Millsfield, 12 miles to the south, US President Donald Trump won 16 votes to Mr Biden’s five.

There would normally be a big spread of food and a lot of media crammed into a small space to watch the voting, Tom Tillotson, town moderator in Dixville Notch, said last week.

But that is no longer possible because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Town moderator Tom Tillotson, left, and Les Otten review the five ballots cast just after midnight (AP)

It is also hard to observe the 60th anniversary of the tradition which started in November 1960, the election in which John F Kennedy defeated incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon.

“Sixty years – and unfortunately, we can’t celebrate it,” he said.

A third community with midnight voting, Hart’s Location, suspended the tradition this election because of coronavirus concerns.

It decided to hold voting from 11am to 7pm.

The White Mountains town started the early voting in 1948 to accommodate railroad workers who had to be at work before normal voting hours.

It eventually stopped in 1964 but brought it back in 1996.

The communities also vote just after midnight for New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, which was on February 11.

That almost did not happen this year in Dixville Notch, when one person moved away, leaving the remaining four residents one short of the minimum needed to handle various election responsibilities.

That was fixed when a developer working on renovations of the now-closed Balsams resort, where the voting tradition began, moved in.

For years, voting was held in a wood-panelled room filled with political memorabilia at the Balsams, which closed in 2011.

Some of those items were brought over to a former culinary school on the property, the setting for Tuesday’s vote.

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