Obama wins early vote in 2 N.H. towns
DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H. - Barack Obama came up a big winner in the presidential race in Dixville Notch and Hart's Location, where the tradition of having the first Election Day ballots tallied lives on.
Democrat Obama defeated Republican John McCain by 15 to 6 in Dixville Notch, where a loud whoop accompanied the announcement. Hart's Location reported 17 votes for Obama, 10 for McCain, and two for write-in Ron Paul. Independent Ralph Nader was on both towns' ballots, but got no votes.
Dixville Notch's first voter, following tradition, was picked ahead of the midnight voting, and the rest of the town's 20 registered voters followed suit in today's first minutes.
Town Clerk Rick Erwin said the northern New Hampshire town is proud of its tradition, but added "the most important thing is that we exemplify a 100 percent vote."
With 115 residents between them, Dixville Notch and Hart's Location's get every eligible voter to the polls beginning at midnight on Election Day. The towns have been enjoying their first-vote status since 1948.
Being first means something to residents of the Granite State, home of the nation's earliest presidential primary and the central focus, however briefly, of the vote-watching nation's attention every four years.
New Hampshire law requires polls to open by 11 a.m., but that does not stop towns from opening earlier. It also allows towns to close their polls once all registered and eligible voters have cast ballots.
Hart's Location started opening its polls early in 1948, the year President Truman beat Thomas Dewey, to accommodate its resident railroad workers, who had to get to work early.
The town got out of the early voting business in 1964 after some residents grew weary of all the publicity, but brought it back in 1996.
Dixville Notch, nestled in a mountain pass 1,800 feet up and about halfway between the White Mountain National Forest and the Canadian border, started voting early in 1960, when John F. Kennedy beat Richard M. Nixon.
Nixon, the Republican, swept all nine votes cast in Dixville that year.