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We Talked to the Dixville 6, the Midnight Voters Who All Went for Haley

We Talked to the Dixville 6, the Midnight Voters Who All Went for Haley

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The first votes within the New Hampshire major have been forged within the township of Dixville Notch.

All six of them.

Nikki Haley took 100% of the vote, with 100% turnout. The polls — or ballot, on this case — opened simply after the clock struck midnight, as they’ve right here for 64 years, to nice fanfare. And 10 minutes later, the voting was carried out.

The occasion is as a lot a press spectacle as it’s a severe train in democracy: There have been greater than 10 journalists for each voter, together with representatives from main TV networks, newspapers, wire companies and international press from over a dozen nations.

Ms. Haley’s unanimous victory got here as one thing of a shock to a first-time Dixville Notch voter, Valerie Maxwell, 54, who works for the resort the place the voting was held.

“I wasn’t positive she would do it however I’m so excited,” Ms. Maxwell stated. “We didn’t inform one another who we have been voting for, so I wasn’t positive. But I’m actually excited she did it.”

The township, simply 20 miles from the Canadian border, was as soon as heralded as a near-magic bellwether: The winner of its Republican major went on to win the party’s nomination in each election cycle from 1968 to 2012. Whatever predictive powers it could have possessed have been uncovered by Donald J. Trump, who misplaced in Dixville Notch, 2 votes to three, in 2016 to former Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio.

The lack of religion in its prognostic talents maybe precipitated the decline of its political draw. Once a destination for presidential hopefuls, Dixville Notch didn’t host any of this 12 months’s major candidates. That didn’t diminish the symbolic weight of the midnight vote for Tom Tillotson, 78, the township’s moderator, an elected place that oversees city conferences.

“My one vote isn’t going to swing something, however possibly how we vote would possibly give individuals some options,” stated Mr. Tillotson, who’s sad with the prospect of one other matchup between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump. He hopes different voters comply with the township’s lead in supporting one other candidate.

Les Otten, the actual property developer who owns the Balsams, the resort that hosts the vote, stated he was sick of the detrimental and pessimistic politics of the present presidential race. After all, the United States economic system is among the many very strongest on the earth, he stated.

“How is that one thing to be terrified of? It isn’t,” Mr. Otten stated. “That’s what our job as voters really is: to show off the entire politics, to show off the entire second-guessers, all of the pundits.”

Dixville Notch, inhabitants six, is dwelling to not a single Democrat — its voter rolls listing 4 Republicans and two independents. But Mr. Tillotson insisted that the vote right here is much less concerning the party and extra concerning the course of.

“The actual message right here is ‘get off your butts, get on the market and vote.’ Everybody. Republicans and Democrats,” stated Mr. Tillotson, a former Republican who left the party in 2020 and is now unaffiliated.

Dixville Notch was as soon as not so particular in its strategy to elections. Other cities that used to vote at midnight, like Millsfield and Hart’s Location, opted to carry their elections at extra regular hours this 12 months, leaving Dixville Notch’s voters alone — save the journalists, in fact.

In the moments earlier than midnight, Mr. Tillotson entertained the assembled media with a yarn about his father, Neil Tillotson, who started the midnight voting custom. As the youthful Mr. Tillotson tells it, his father used to set his watch a couple of minutes quick, simply to beat out the opposite early-voting cities.

“Well, I don’t know if that’s true or not,” he stated, considerably spoiling the story.

Another voter, Annmarie Pintal Turcotte, 54, an actual property developer and enterprise accomplice of Mr. Otten’s who made up greater than 16 p.c of the voters right here, forged her first vote in Dixville Notch and reported that the method was totally pleasing.

“It’s thrilling, I feel that is a lot extra enjoyable,” she stated. “I wish to vote on a regular basis now.”

Not all of Dixville Notch’s voters have been enthused concerning the consideration and the inflow of press. Deborah Tillotson, Mr. Tillotson’s spouse, politely declined to reply questions concerning the evening’s hoopla — “I’m not inquisitive about having a dialog about this,” she stated — and she or he remained in her seat subsequent to the poll field because the media scrum engulfed her 5 neighbors.

The Balsams Resort, the place the half-dozen voters normally congregate within the aptly named Ballot Room, is closed for renovation, so the few voters, many journalists and two canines (Maxine and Lucy) as an alternative packed into the Tillotson Room in one of many resort’s outbuildings that was as soon as dwelling to the elder Mr. Tillotson.

Until his dying at 102 in 2001, Neil Tillotson took it upon himself to forged the primary poll, claiming the weird distinction of the nation’s first voter. Into his sneakers stepped Mr. Otten, a ski-resort magnate who as soon as owned a part of the Boston Red Sox and lots of of New England’s storied resorts. Mr. Otten purchased the Balsams in 2016 and has been attempting to show the lodge, which has slid into disrepair and in the present day sits vacant, right into a year-round vacation spot with an unlimited ski space to rival the biggest in New England.

The spectacle of the midnight vote has captured the creativeness of political lovers for many years, and it garnered much more fame after the custom was featured in an episode of “The West Wing.”

But Dixville Notch’s popularity didn’t proceed itself for Scott Maxwell, 54, who participated within the midnight vote for the primary time on Tuesday.

“They forgot to inform me that half,” stated Mr. Maxwell, a carpenter and husband to Valerie Maxwell. “I don’t keep in mind after I discovered, most likely after I’d been up right here two or three months.”

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