, DIXVILLE NOTCH, New Hampshire, Nov 6 – The first ballots of the 2012 White House race were cast in the tiny northeastern town of Dixville Notch Tuesday, with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each receiving five votes.
The first-in-the-nation vote, held shortly after midnight, was tied for the first time in its history, another indication of the knife’s edge separating the two candidates in a race that should be decided by the end of the day.
Tanner Tillotson, 24, who cast the first ballot at 12am (0500 GMT) in the upscale Balsams Grand Resort Hotel, said he voted for President Obama.
“I hope it will inspire people to get out and make their voice heard,” he said.
“I think (the result) is very indicative, that this is the first time in Dixville Notch’s history that there is a tie. We’re still a very divided nation and it will be interesting to see how the rest of the country is.”
The tiny New Hampshire town, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the Canadian border, boasts the first vote in US elections, but is seen as more of a curiosity than a national bellwether.
Early voting has been under way for several weeks in some states, and recent days have seen long lines outside of polling stations as the two campaigns have carried out intensive get-out-the-vote efforts.
The Republican candidate has won Dixville Notch in every election since the tradition began in 1960, except for 2008, when Obama won.
Polls show Obama as the slight favourite, with the two candidates in a virtual tie in national polls but the president holding a narrow lead in the key swing states needed to win the all-important electoral college.