New Hampshire Primary: How It Works

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New Hampshire voters will head to the polls Tuesday for the nation’s first primary election, where Nikki Haley is hoping to make a dent in former President Donald J. Trump’s delegate lead after his big win in the Iowa caucuses. Voting in the state technically starts at midnight, but the vast majority of polling places will open at 7 a.m. Eastern time.

Here’s what else to know:

This year’s primary is set for Tuesday, Jan. 23.

The simple answer is because its the law: A state law passed in 1975 mandates that the election must take place at least a week before any other state’s primary.

The Granite State’s tradition of voting first existed long before the law was passed. Its original first-in-the-nation contest took place in 1920, when 16,195 Republicans and 7,103 Democrats turned out on March 9.

The state has clung to the tradition ever since. Going first has its benefits: Every four years, the political spotlight brings with it an influx of out-of-state cash, media and attention to the small and sparsely populated state.

On Tuesday, New Hampshire voters will head to polling places in their town or city to cast ballots for who they want to be the Democratic or Republican presidential nominee.

Ballots will be tabulated by vote counting machines. Poll workers will read and hand-count write-in votes, like those for President Biden, who will not appear on Democratic ballots. The Democratic Party changed its primary calendar, bumping New Hampshire from the top spot in favor of South Carolina, but New Hampshire declined to move change its date and is holding a Democratic primary anyway. Mr. Biden declined to participate, so supporters have mounted a write-in campaign on his behalf, but no delegates will be awarded.

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New Hampshire Primary: How It Works

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