Dixville Notch, New Hampshire
, is the location of the first vote
to be cast in United States
s since 1960
. Neal Tillotson, a manufacturer of latex
products such as surgical glove
s and balloon
s, bought a resort there in the late 1950s and became aware that there was no nearby place to vote. He helped get the area of the Balsams Resort incorporated as a town
, and opened a polling place at the resort hotel. For each election, he opened the polling booths at midnight
rather than wait until the morning; all the town's voters (about 30) gather and vote, and the polls are closed as soon as all the votes are cast, just a few minutes later. Tillotson made a tradition of casting his vote first, starting with the Presidential election of 1960
. This continued until his death October 17, 2001
at the age of 102.
Since New Hampshire holds the first presidential primary of any U.S. state (and has since 1920), the residents of Dixville Notch are also the first primary voters of the country. CNN notes that "The town's voters have correctly chosen the eventual Republican nominee every year since 1968."
The idea of the midnight voting actually was used first in another town nearby, Hart's Location, where railroad workers had to be at work before polls would normally have opened, but Hart's Location only had the polls at midnight from 1948 to 1964 and then started the practice up again in 1996. There has been some competition to be the first community to have votes in, including both towns installing special phone lines to report their vote counts. But Dixville Notch has the tradition behind it and seems to get special visits from Presidential candidates for that reason.
"Honorary Unsubscribe" for Neal Tillotson, in Randy Cassingham's This is True newsletter for the week of 14 October 2001, http://www.thisistrue.com/honors01.html