Dixville Notch, N.H., the small town where the first votes in the presidential election are traditionally cast, showed just how close the race is. Its 10 voters split evenly between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H. — Residents of two tiny villages in northern New Hampshire headed to the polls at midnight, casting the first Election Day votes in the nation.
After 43 seconds of voting, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney each had 5 votes in Dixville Notch.
In Hart's Location, Obama had won with 23 votes, Romney received 9 and Libertarian Gary Johnson received 1 vote. Thirty-three votes were cast in 5 minutes, 42 seconds.
The towns have been enjoying their first-vote status since 1948 and it's a matter of pride to get everyone to the polls.
Hart's Location Selectman Mark Dindorf says you could call it a friendly competition to see who gets votes tallied first, although he says Hart's Location is a town and Dixville Notch is a precinct.
For more than 50 years, voters in Dixville Notch, a township tucked close to the Canadian border, have cast some of the nation's first ballots for president at the historic Balsams Grand Resort Hotel.
But not this year.
Although the hotel will be closed for the Nov. 6 election, Dixville's 10 registered voters will continue the midnight tradition at a local ski lodge.
The Victorian- and Alpine-style resort, in the village of Dixville Notch, is known for its wood-paneled Ballot Room, where residents have cast their votes for president at the stroke of midnight on New Hampshire's primary day and on the nation's Election Day since 1960. The room is filled with political articles and cartoons from presidential campaigns and a special glass-encased ballot box.
Dixville shares midnight voting with Hart's Location, which began the early-bird tradition in 1948. Most residents of the White Mountain village then were railroad workers who had to be on the job during normal polling hours. By 1964 the townspeople had grown weary of the media attention and the late hours and did away with the practice. They revived it in 1996.
Former Balsams owner Neil Tillotson, eager to steal the spotlight from Hart's Location, arranged for the early elections by having Dixville incorporated in 1960 solely for voting.
The nearly 150-year-old resort was officially closed in September 2011. Two local businessmen who bought it for $2.3 million hope to re-open it next year.
The hotel this year was re-opened just for one night — the state's first-in-the-nation presidential primary on Jan. 10.