Why does Dixville Notch vote first?Joe Biden takes home first poll victory in tiny NH town

In 2016, Dixville Notch had eight voters, of which, four voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, while Trump got two votes with a single ballot cast for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson

                            Why does Dixville Notch vote first?Joe Biden takes home first poll victory in tiny NH town
Joe Biden (Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has registered a win against incumbent President Donald Trump by 5-0 in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. The small town declared its election day result on Tuesday, November 3. "Lifelong Republican” Les Otten who was one of the five registered voters in Dixville Notch, cast his vote for Biden. Otten, who is a one-time ski resort magnate and former baseball team Red Sox minority partner, mentioned his support to Biden in a video that went viral. Otten, who ran for Maine governor in a 2010 GOP primary, said he would vote for Democrat leader Biden as against Trump because "it's time to find what unites us as opposed to what divides us”.

Otten explained, “I’m lifelong Republican voting for Joe Biden for president. I don’t agree with him on a lot of issues, but I believe it’s time to find what unites us, not divides us. It’s time to rebuild the heart of what makes us a great country. That starts with electing leaders of character who are truthful and put the country’s welfare ahead of all else, and who will show respect for all people regardless of their gender, their race, their religion, or their political beliefs. My vote today is meant to send a message to my fellow Republicans that our party can find its way back.”

In the 2016 elections, Dixville Notch had eight voters, of which, four voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. At that time, Trump got two votes with a single ballot cast for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

Why does Dixville Notch vote first?

Since 1960, the citizens of the tiny town of Dixville Notch gather at midnight to cast the first ballots in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation contest. However, media reports cited state legislation in 2019 that found that many of its voters weren't eligible which raised questions on its early voting tradition. As per reports, the exercise of voting in the midnight, before other states, is to gain media traction.

"The midnight vote in this town was always a media-driven event. It started as a way to give the press something to report early on Election Day. And Dixville, long-held up to the rest of the world as a symbol of democracy at its purest, has actually come under lots of scrutiny from state election investigators since 2016. Some of Dixville's voters, according to a state investigation, didn't actually live there. Some other election rules also weren't being followed. As Anne Edwards with the New Hampshire attorney general's office explained, the state was tipped off to the problems with Dixville's elections because of all of the press coverage," a source told NPR.

Another source told the publication, "Once the ineligible voters were removed from the rolls, it wasn't clear that Dixville would have enough people to legally hold its own election again in 2020. It's getting to be a ghost town here." However, proving such speculations wrong, the town voted at midnight, keeping with its tradition, and released Election Day results. As the news dropped of Biden winning, Democrat supporters started rejoicing while many thanked Les Otten for his support. Some mentioned how Biden is the first candidate who got a full majority 60 years after, former president Richard Nixon beat John F Kennedy with a 9-0 result in Dixville Notch.

A user wrote, “The tiny hamlet of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, which has voted first since 1960, has voted unanimously for Joe Biden while neighboring Millsfield went 16-5 for Biden. The unanimous vote was it's first since in 1960, where it voted unanimously for Nixon (who lost the general).” Another concurred, “The very first reported results in Dixville Notch, NH. Biden - 5/ Trump - 0. The first being Republican voting for Biden, setting the tone for Election Day. It's over. BYE DON!” A user rejoiced, “DIXVILLE NOTCH CALLS IT FOR BIDEN.And we’re off. Let’s do this.” A user wrote for Otten, “Les Otten, Thank you for voting for Biden!”








Who is Les Otten

Otten is the developer of the Balsams, the shuttered hotel and ski resort in Dixville Notch, where the voting was conducted on the night of Monday, November 2. Otten became Dixville Notch’s fifth resident to vote in favor of Democrats. He claims to be a longtime supporter of Republicans through, as he mentioned in the video.

Coming to his personal and professional life, Otten graduated from Ithaca College in 1971 with a degree in business administration. He went on to work in lift maintenance at Killington in Vermont after college. He got involved in ski business at Sunday River in Newry and revamped it to the extent that the area attracted 300,000 skier visits a year under his leadership. This venture got Otten named as Turnaround Entrepreneur of 1989 by Inc. magazine. NH Business Review reported that by 1997, Otten had nine major resorts in his collection. This includes Heavenly Valley in California, Steamboat Springs in Colorado, The Canyons of Utah, Sugarloaf in Maine and New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley, Attitash and Cranmore resorts.

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