Obama Leads … by 16 Votes

By Beacon Staff

In one of the weirder American traditions, residents in the tiny towns of Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, N.H., tallied their votes just after midnight Tuesday. Combined, Barack Obama received 32 votes, John McCain 16 and Ron Paul two. Of the 115 residents between them, everyone eligible voted.

Apparently, Hart’s Location residents began voting at midnight in 1948, discontinued the practice in the 1960s because of the intense media attention, and revived the tradition in 1996. Dixville Notch residents have been midnight voting continuously since 1960. Under New Hampshire law, a precinct can close once every registered voter has marked their respective ballots. And, since 100 percent turnout is always expected, the polls close in each of these towns soon after they open.

In Dixville Notch, the tradition began when prominent resident, Neil Tolletson, insisted on voting first every year.

He would reportedly hold his ballot over the ballot box while watching his wristwatch. At the moment of midnight, Tillotson would drop the ballot into the ballot box and the rest of the town’s residents would follow suit.

The Associated Press story on the first votes tallied this election day can be read here.