The Balsams in New Hampshire: America's polling station
DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H. - In a little more than a year from now, America’s eyes, if not the world’s, will be focused on this little hamlet in the mountains of New Hampshire’s North Woods - if only for about 30 minutes.
Every presidential election, Dixville Notch, population 18-20 (depending on who you ask), casts the nation’s first votes, at 12:00 a.m. on the first Tuesday of November.
New Hampshire law says that once every registered voter has had his say in a particular town, voting stations there can close and votes can be tallied. In Dixville Notch, the whole process takes around 15 minutes - after which a broadcast goes around the world reporting who is officially leading on election day long before the rest of the country rouses from bed and slinks off to the polling stations.
It’s an old American political tradition, and it all plays out here at the Balsams, an elegant golf resort hemmed in by steep crag and dense forest, on the edge of a man-made lake.
The Balsams is Dixville Notch. It serves as the community’s de facto town hall. Most of the two dozen residents of the town work at the resort. The town’s mayor plays the drums in the jazz band that plays sleepy sets late into the evening in the hotel’s tavern.
Just the other day, the town held it’s annual voter registration right in the hotel. Eighteen showed up to register.
“We’re unique,” says Alex, who works the front desk. “Every registered voter gets his own voting booth. We make sure of it. So, the whole process is over pretty quick.”
How many people registered the other week?
Alex said 18. “We used to have as many as 30 registered voters,” said Alex, who works the front desk. “But it seems to go down every year.”
But that doesn’t mean that Dixville Notch will fade from significance. You can bet that at midnight on Election Day 2008, the two main presidential candidates and hords of media will all be crammed into the Ballot Room at the Balsams, where the town’s citizens cast their votes.
The nearest town, 12 miles away, doesn’t go to the polls until 8 a.m.
People come to the Balsams to see this ballot room, which is really just a meeting room with walls festooned with pictures and newspaper articles from past elections. But people also come for the golf, an old Donald Ross track that sits along the ridgeline above the valley.
I am checking that out at first light tomorrow morning.
|« Myrtle Beach: Where the weathermen don't have to be right||Golfing in Maine? You'll have some great beer to choose from »|
No feedback yet
Comments are closed for this post.