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N.H. Towns Cast First Votes in U.S.

Associated Press
Tuesday, November 2, 2004; Page A05

HART'S LOCATION, N.H., Nov. 2 -- The nation's first Election Day votes were cast and counted just after midnight Tuesday in this mountain hamlet, with President Bush and John F. Kerry each receiving 15 votes. Ralph Nader received one.

Minutes later, results were announced in Dixville Notch, about 50 miles to the north. In a town with 26 register voters, 19 cast their ballot for Bush and seven voted for Kerry.

Since 1948, Hart's Location and Dixville Notch have been sporadically taking advantage of a state law that allows communities to close polls early if all registered voters have cast ballots.

In 2000, both communities chose Bush over Democrat Al Gore. In Hart's Location, Bush won, 17 to 13. In Dixville Notch, he had 21 votes, Gore five and Ralph Nader one.

By state law, polls must be open between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day. But nothing prevents a town from opening the polls earlier and closing after all potential voters have cast ballots. Hart's Location began doing just that in 1948 because nearly everyone in town worked for the railroad and many had to be at work before normal voting hours. Dixville Notch followed in 1960.


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