Joe Biden won a symbolic early victory this morning in the tiny New Hampshire village of Dixville Notch, where voters backed him by five to zero over Donald Trump.
The community near the Canadian border has been casting its ballots at midnight on election day for decades. Biden’s clean sweep might be seen as an augur of things to come – were it not for the fact that in 2016 Dixville Notch backed Hillary Clinton.
There was less good news for the former vice-president from the neighbouring town of Millsfield, 12 miles away. There Trump got 16 votes, compared with Biden’s five. A third hamlet with midnight voting, Hart’s Location, suspended the tradition due to Covid concerns.
“It’s sort of proof positive that every vote counts and that every vote is part of the system. It’s a privilege to be able to do it,” resident Les Otten told CNN. “It’s just a demonstration to the rest of the country that democracy works,” Joe Casey, another local, added.
“I’m a Republican and I’m going to break ranks tonight and vote for Joe Biden,” one of the five voters explained, his mask hanging from one ear.
With so few people on the electoral roll social distancing measures were easy to enforce. The vote took place in a former cookery school decorated with political memorabilia taken from a previous wood-panelled location.
Dixville Notch, in the White Mountains, started early voting in 1948 to accommodate railroad workers who had to be at work before normal voting hours. The tradition stopped in 1964 but came back in 1996.
The communities also vote just after midnight in New Hampshire’s first presidential primary. The 11 February primary almost didn’t happen this year in Dixville Notch, when one person moved away, leaving the remaining four residents one short of the minimum needed to handle various election responsibilities. That was fixed when a developer working on renovations of the now-closed Balsams resort, where the voting tradition began, moved in.