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First-in-the-nation tradition

FPU students head to Dixville-Notch to cover midnight voting

  • Tanner Tillotson cast the first vote in Dixville-Notch on Nov. 6 at midnight.

In a tradition that dates back more than a half century, citizens of Dixville-Notch flocked to The Balsams Wilderness Ski Resort Lodge and cast ballots at the stroke of midnight on Nov. 6, distinguishing them as first in the nation.

This year’s results were unique, however. For the first time since the midnight voting was organized in 1960, the vote was split: five for Mitt Romney and five for President Obama. In an election in which New Hampshire has been seen as a toss up swing state, the vote was telling.

“It’s quite an honor to be a part of all of this,” said Dixville-Notch resident Donna K. Erwin. “To live in a town where 100 percent of eligible voters turnout, that’s just remarkable. I think we set a very good precedent for the rest of the country.”

The split vote signifies a leftward shift in Dixville-Notch in recent years. Between 1960 and 2004, only once has a Democratic candidate won Dixville’s presidential vote, and that was Hubert Humphrey in 1968. In 2008, Obama became the second to do so.

Tanner Tillotson, a lifelong resident of Dixville-Notch, had the privilege of being the first to cast a ballot Tuesday. His father, Thomas Tillotson, dictated the progress of the voting event.

Tanner’s grandfather, Neil Tillotson, had started the event in 1960. “There’s been a law on the books in New Hampshire for a long time,” Tanner said, “that says any town below a certain size -- once they have complete voter turnout -- they are eligible to report their findings early. So my grandfather, Neil, pretty much exploited this to put Dixville-Notch on the map. Today, it’s bigger than anything we could have imagined.”

It’s worth noting that Hart’s Location, also in New Hampshire, has also been taking part in first-in-the-nation voting since 1996. There, President Obama took 23 votes to Governor Romney’s nine. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson received one vote.

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