At midnight on a yet-to-be chosen Tuesday early next year, the roughly 40 residents of New Hampshire’s smallest town will pack into a small log building off the main road to cast some of the first votes in the race for the White House. Hart’s Location is one of three tiny communities nestled in the White Mountains where people cast the first votes in the first U.S. presidential nominating primary every four years. Midnight voting is one of the quirkier traditions of New Hampshire’s 100-year-old primary, and not a terribly accurate gauge of which candidates will win their parties’ nominations. The winners of the statewide Republican and Democratic primaries have gone on to clinch the nominations in 11 of 14 races, excluding challenges to an incumbent president, over the past four decades. The success rate is just three out of seven for the top vote-getters in Hart’s Location and nine out of 14 in Dixville Notch, near the Canadian border. But for the residents of these flinty towns, the point is turnout.
A shuttered hotel where the nation’s first presidential primary ballots have been traditionally cast will once against host midnight voting in 2016, according to developers working to overhaul and expand the historic resort. The nearly 150-year-old Balsams resort in Dixville Notch closed in September 2011, and its new owners are still waiting for environmental permits to move ahead with extensive restoration plans, which include a new hotel and conference center and a larger ski area. That has raised questions about the fate of the primary voting tradition, but project spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne said the goal is to have a portion of the resort’s Dix House ready for the February primary.
New Hampshire: Dixville Notch and the midnight vote will not die without a fight | The Washington Post
Tom Tillotson lives beside a closed-down ski mountain in a town that doesn’t exist. He doesn’t miss the chairlift that used to be out back. He has strong legs and likes hiking the slopes. And he doesn’t really miss the people who used to vacation at his late father’s hotel — the now-crumbling Balsams Resort. His three Labradors and his wife are company enough. He does, however, miss the visits from presidential candidates. “They don’t call anymore,” Tillotson said in the reclaimed barn he calls his home. He’s stocky, with a strawberry-shaped nose and flat light brown hair that rests like an A-frame house atop his head. “They used to come by all the time, but that’s just not happening now.”