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Tiny town casts first US votes - Clinton wins

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 07:01

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A tiny New Hampshire town cast the first votes in the US presidential election at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, and the results are in: it chose Hillary Clinton.

[DIXVILLE NOTCH, United States] A tiny New Hampshire town cast the first votes in the US presidential election at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, and the results are in: it chose Hillary Clinton.

Dixville Notch, a hamlet about 32km south of the Canadian border, has maintained the tradition of first-in-the-nation voting since 1960.

But the outcome in this mountainous Republican stronghold near Quebec is seen as more of a curiosity than a national bellwether.

A crowd of media and others dwarfed the exactly seven residents - five men and two women - of Dixville Notch who lined up to vote as Democrat Clinton and Republican rival Donald Trump battled in a tight race.

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"Trump, he talks about jobs, that he's going to give jobs. The others do nothing," said Andre Grondin, speaking in French. The 40-something owner of a public works company has proudly raised a huge blue Trump banner above dozens of his backhoes.

Just seconds after midnight, the ballots had been placed in a wooden box in the middle of the "ballot room" at the hotel of The Balsams ski resort.

Dixville Notch's eight votes, including one absentee ballot, were swiftly counted and the tally announced: Mrs Clinton won four votes, in a relative landslide to the Republican billionaires's two.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson won one vote. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee who lost to incumbent President Barack Obama in 2012, garnered a write-in vote.

That year Mr Obama and Mr Romney each won five votes. In 2008, Mr Obama was the first Democrat to win Dixville Notch, breaking Republican dominance.

Though northeastern New Hampshire is one of the country's smallest states, Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump have done battle here in recent days for its four electoral votes which could be decisive in a neck-and-neck race.

In the White House race, the winner needs at least 270 of the 538 electoral votes up for grabs.

Nancy DePalma, a hotel worker voting in the village for the first time, said she backed Mrs Clinton, the former first lady, secretary of state and senator.

"I believe she's a strong person. She's got the experience. I think she's going to lead our country in the right direction," Ms DePalma told AFP.

She said she had backed Mrs Clinton's rival Bernie Sanders, the progressive senator from neighbouring Vermont, in the Democratic primary race.

For Trump supporter Peter Johnson, who has cast his ballot here since 1982, the real-estate tycoon Trump "has done well for this country" no matter who wins the national election.

He welcomed Mr Trump's maverick campaign as part of a populist movement spreading around the world.

Another of the midnight voters, Ross Vandeursen, said the presidential campaign had been tense and sensationalised.

"I'm not very proud of the state of the campaign we've run," he said.

Leslie Otten, the owner of The Balsams, said the vast majority of people in America were not satisfied with Mrs Clinton or Mr Trump.

"That is unfortunate. But we'll have to vote," he said.

The results of the US election were not expected to be known before 0300 GMT Wednesday.

AFP

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