DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H. – Wesley Clark (search) won the initial votes cast Tuesday morning in New Hampshire's Democratic presidential primary, the first to be counted in a state primary this year.
Clark had been the only major candidate to visit two of the state's smallest hamlets — Dixville Notch (search) and Hart's Location — where residents cast and count their votes in the early minutes of Election Day.
Clark won Dixville with 8 votes. Sen. John Kerry had 3, Sen. John Edwards 2 and Howard Dean and Sen. Joe Lieberman 1 each. Clark received 6 votes in Hart's Location (search). Kerry had 5, Dean 3 and Edwards 2.
In balloting by Republicans, President Bush (search) running unopposed received 11 votes in Dixville and 13 in Hart's Location.
Clark was on hand in Dixville at the Balsams hotel as the ballots were counted minutes after midnight. "I'm very happy for the support here," said Clark, who is running third or fourth in statewide polls. "I'm very grateful to the people of New Hampshire. I'm looking forward to tomorrow (Tuesday)."
Officials and voters in both far northern towns had predicted the retired four-star general likely would be rewarded. "I'm predicting a win for the general," Michael Pearson, a Dixville Notch selectman, said before the vote.
There are no registered Democrats in Dixville Notch, population 33, and just five in Hart's Location, which has 39 residents. But state law allows independents to register with a party at the polling place and vote in its primary. Most of Dixville Notch's 16 independents and Hart's 14 were expected to vote in the Democratic primary.
Dixville marked a milestone, the first presidential primary since town patriarch Neil Tillotson died two years ago at 102.
Tillotson was the moderator at Town Meeting and owner of the Balsams and an adjacent latex factory. From 1960 to 2000, he marked midnight on his wristwatch and cast the first vote.
This year the hour was marked by Tillotson's son, Tom, the new moderator. The name of the first voter was drawn from a hat.