First town weighs in at midnight

By: CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
By: CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

(CNN) — The first wave of election returns won't flow in until 7 p.m. ET Tuesday night, but the results in one precinct will be known much sooner.

Dixville Notch, an isolated village located in New Hampshire's northeast corner, will begin voting at the stroke of 12 a.m. Tuesday, and the ballots won't take long to tally: Dixville Notch only has about 20 registered voters.

The town, home to around 75 residents, has opened its polls shortly after midnight each election day since 1960, drawing national media attention for being the first place in the country to make its presidential preferences known — although since 1996, another small New Hampshire town, Hart's Location,reinstated its practice from the 1940s and also opens its polls at midnight.

But the result in Dixville Notch is hardly a reliable bellwether for the eventual winner of the White House or even the result statewide. Though New Hampshire is a perennial swing state, Dixville Notch consistently leans Republican — the last Democrat it picked was Hubert Humphrey over Richard Nixon in 1968.

President Bush also won the town in a landslide in the last two elections: He captured 73 percent of the vote in 2004 (19 residents picked Bush while six preferred Sen. John Kerry), and secured 80 percent of the vote in 2000 (21 votes for Bush, 5 votes for Al Gore.)

But the result could be close this year given Democrats now outnumber Republicans there. According to Donna Kaye Erwin, the supervisor of the voter checklist, Dixville Notch has five registered Democrats, four Republicans, and 11 undeclared voters.

The result could also be a nail biter given the town picked both John McCain and Barack Obama for the New Hampshire Democratic and Republican primaries last January. McCain ultimately won the state of New Hampshire, while Hillary Clinton upset Obama there.


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