Joe Biden has claimed his first victory of the 2020 US election – winning all five votes in the small New Hampshire community of Dixville Notch.
The tiny town near the Canadian border posted its tally on a handwritten poster board a few minutes after midnight on Tuesday while most Americans were in bed before nationwide polls opened.
It marked the 60th anniversary of a tradition which started in November 1960, when John F Kennedy defeated incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon. The town handed Hillary Clinton one of her first victories in the 2016 election.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump notched up his first victory in the small town of Millsfield, 12 miles to the south, where the US President scooped 16 votes to Mr Biden’s five in another traditional early declaration.
The townfolk of Dixville Notch would normally lay on a big spread of food with the media crammed into a small space to watch the voting.
But this year that was not possible because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Sixty years – and unfortunately, we can’t celebrate it,” , Tom Tillotson, town moderator in Dixville Notch, said.
A third community with midnight voting, Hart’s Location, suspended the tradition this election because of coronavirus concerns.
It decided to hold voting from 11am to 7pm.
The White Mountains town started the early voting in 1948 to accommodate railroad workers who had to be at work before normal voting hours.
It eventually stopped in 1964 but brought it back in 1996.
The communities also vote just after midnight for New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, which was on February 11.
That almost did not happen this year in Dixville Notch, when one person moved away, leaving the remaining four residents one short of the minimum needed to handle various election responsibilities.
That was fixed when a developer working on renovations of the now-closed Balsams resort, where the voting tradition began, moved in.
For years, voting was held in a wood-panelled room filled with political memorabilia at the Balsams, which closed in 2011.
Some of those items were brought over to a former culinary school on the property, the setting for Tuesday’s vote.