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Dixville Notch Keeps Its Place at the Front of the Voting Line

New Hampshire town preserves midnight balloting by adding a resident
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2020 4:25 PM CST
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Laraine Jolin, left, casts her ballot in the New Hampshire primary in March 1964, moments after midnight.   (AP Photo, File)
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(Newser) – Every four years, the nation's attention shifts briefly to Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. The town has opened the doors of its polling place at a tick after midnight for presidential primaries and general elections for almost 60 years. That tradition was at risk but has been spared, NECN reports. One of the town's selectmen had moved away, leaving it shorthanded. But Les Otten said he's moving from Maine to Dixville Notch, giving it five residents and enough officials to continue to hold its own elections. "We're all a go," a resident said. Otten developed the Balsams resort, which was the first midnight polling place. "Having the New Hampshire primary without Dixville voting first is like having winter in New Hampshire without snow," Otten said.

The early opening, combined with the fact that the votes don't take long to count, means that Dixville Notch is positioned to again be the first to report presidential election results. In 2016, per CNN, the eight voters were monitored by 40 reporters. The state attorney general's office, which started the drama, hasn't issued a comment. But Otten, discussing his decision help preserve the town's distinction, said, "It was something that was crying out for somebody to step forward and say I'll be the fifth guy." (In the 2016 primary, Donald Trump received two votes.)

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