N.H. primary actually starts at midnight, thanks to tiny town

While most of New Hampshire is asleep or preparing for bed, one tiny village of a dozen people will continue a nearly 60-year tradition of casting their vote for the presidential primaries at midnight.

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Nine registered voters in Dixville Notch -- which is in the state's northwest corner, less than 40 kilometres from the border with Quebec -- are expected to show up at a makeshift ballot room in the community's Balsams Grand Resort Hotel.

The rest of the state will head to the polls on Tuesday morning.

Neil Tillotson, a rubber magnate who purchased the hotel in 1954, came to the realization that Dixville Notch was 50 miles away from the nearest polling station and saw an opportunity to put the village on the map.

Tillotson incorporated Dixville Notch solely for the purposes of voting and decided to take advantage of a provision in New Hampshire law that allowed some towns to close their polls once all of its registered voters had cast their ballots.

Despite having just nine registered voters, Tillotson thought that the early results would cause news media and politicians to flock to the town.

The ritual started in 1960, and tiny Dixville Notch has become a hub of political activity in the lead up to elections ever since.

"He thought, 'Hey, that would be fun,'" Tom Tillotson, Neil's son, who will moderate this year's proceedings, told CTV News Channel.

"It became a tradition that we've upheld and done continuously for 56 years."

Over the years, the community has been visited by eventual Republic Presidents Ronald Reagan, both George Bushes and countless other politicians hunting for votes.

And while, Dixville Notch has been quieter this year than in the past, only Republic presidential hopeful John Kasich has visited, Tillotson says that the village's population has "exploded" over the last 12 hours.

"We have satellite trucks and reporters. The reporters will probably outnumber the voters five to one," said Tillotson.

The village's votes are more often than not the first to be reported, and they're also sometimes a decent litmus test for the rest of the state.

"I will say this, ever since we've had both Democrats and Republicans voting in the primaries, which was 1972, each president since has won their party’s vote in .. the Dixville primary," said Tillotson.


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