Dixville Notch – Colebrook, New Hampshire - Atlas Obscura

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Dixville Notch

A mere dot on the map in the great north woods is the first place in America to vote in Presidential elections. 


In 2010, the United States Census reported the population of Dixville Notch, an unincorporated community less than 50 miles south from the Canadian border, as just 12 people. Yet these 12 people make up one of the most trivial phenomenons in the United States: They’re the first citizens to vote in the U.S. Presidential Election.

How? Well, the answer is simple. The residents of the town merely meet together in the ballroom of the grand Balsams Hotel (also in Dixville) on the eve of the election. Once the clock strikes midnight they cast their ballots, which are quickly certified by an election official. The process usually takes about a minute in total, making Dixville the first town in the country to report its results.

This distinction did not come easily. Northern New Hampshire is practically built of towns with minuscule populations who try the same stunt. In fact, Dixville’s claim to fame used to belong to the nearby township of Hart’s Location. Waterville Valley, Millsfield, and Ellsworth also vie for the title of first ballot, but any true Granite Stater knows Dixville is the one true first in the nation—in fact, a state historical marker practically confirms it as so!

Oftentimes, media outlets cover this event feverishly and are quick to report that the candidate who wins Dixville will be the candidate who wins the country’s highest office. While this seems silly, in many cases it is correct! Since 1968, the citizens of Dixville have never backed the wrong horse. Is it possible that Dixville residents have some sort of magical powers of perception? An intuition brought about by their life high above the mountains and deep within the forests? Probably not. But why not dream?

Know Before You Go

Unfortunately, the Balsams Hotel is closed to the public. Nonetheless, Dixville is filled with fun hiking trails, snowmobiling trails, and fishing spots. Enjoy this slice of heaven!

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August 2, 2021

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