Tuesday, November 04, 2008

First Votes!

In the tiny NH town of Harts Location, voting begins precisely at 12:01 AM on Election Day. By agreement, all of the voters are present to vote, and as soon as they are done, the voting is closed. NH law allows very small towns to do this. Harts Location was the first NH town to begin the practice in 1948. The other NH town to vote at midnight is Dixville Notch, which gets more attention, because Harts Location stopped midnight voting in 1964, but picked it up again in 1996.

Over the years, the voting has taken place in a variety of places in Harts Location. Some years, the voting was done in the dining room at the Notchland Inn. Some years it was done in Harts Location Town Clerk Marion Varney’s basement. A few years ago, the Appalachian Mountain Club was getting rid of a couple of small huts, so an enterprising resident snagged them, and they were put together to make the 2 room town hall where the voting now takes place.

It’s a social event – folks begin gathering at around 11:15, munching on coffee and cookies. Tonight, for the very first time, there was actually a visibility event out on the street. As voters came in, they were greeted by a dozen or so enthusiastic folks holding signs for Obama and other Democratic candidates. The voters didn’t seem to mind, any more than they mind the presence of a variety of media, including a number of Canadian reporters and photographers. Tonight there are 29 voters present, and 11 absentee ballots.

At 11:58, the voters queue up in alphabetical order. At midnight, the countdown to 12:01 begins. Everyone counts the last 10, Moderator Les Schoof bangs the gavel, and Marion Varney is the first voter. Voting is swift, efficient, and over in 4 minutes. The youngest voter was Aron Dindorf, who turned 18 in August. As he said, “it’s pretty awesome.”

After the voting was finished, and declared closed by the moderator, the counting of the ballots began. In many small NH towns, voters still vote on paper ballots, marked with pencils, and counted by hand. Harts Location is one of those towns.
A lot of young volunteers who are up here in NH to help us with grassroots GOTV wanted to witness this. They’ve read about the midnight vote, and this was an opportunity to see it. Their excitement was infectious – and suddenly it hit me – it’s finally Election Day! This is it!

In Harts Location, in Carroll County, N.H., the results are in:
Obama – 17
McCain – 10
Ron Paul – 2 write ins.

Lynch - 15
Kenney - 14

US Senate:
Shaheen- 14

Shea-Porter - 13
Bradley - 16

Executive Council:
Burton - 15
Cauble - 13

NH Senate:
Gallus - 15
McLeod - 13

NH State Rep:
Butler - 16
Buco- 11
Funicella - 10
White - 10
Chandler - 12
Umberger - 11
Wernette - 13
Bacon - 10

Registrar of Probate:
Monet - 10
Hall - 14

County Commissioner:
Solomon - 14
Albee - 15
Okkola - 10
Cools - 9

Go vote!

1 comment:

Quote said...

"Our contemporaries are constantly excited by two conflicting passions: they want to be led, and they wish to remain free. As they cannot destroy either the one or the other of these contrary propensities, they strive to satisfy them both at once.

They devise a sole, tutelary, and all-powerful form of government, but elected by the people. They combine the principle of centralization and that of popular sovereignty; this gives them a respite: they console themselves for being in tutelage by the reflection that they have chosen their own guardians,

'Every man allows himself to be put in leading-strings, because he sees that it is not a person or a class of persons, but the people at large who hold the end of his chain. By this system the people shake off their state of dependence just long enough to select their master and then relapse into it again.'"

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. II (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1950), pp. 319.