CONCORD, NH (WWLP) – For New Hampshire residents, voting in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary is a tradition that dates back 100 years.
New Hampshire state law says that the primary is to be held on the second Tuesday in March of a presidential election year.
But, the secretary of state has the power to change that date to make sure New Hampshire voters get to the polls at least seven days before any other state.
The state’s “first-in-the-nation” title was challenged back in 2008. Two states tried to make new legislation to hold their primaries on the same day as New Hampshire, so Secretary of State Bill Gardner moved up the New Hampshire vote to January 8th keeping the tradition alive.
Voters take pride in knowing that what they decide in the voting booth can determine a presidential candidate’s future.
“I think it’s a great distinction for the state to have the first-in-the-nation primary,” said Larry Weinert of Wilton NH.
“It’s a critical state to what’s going on, especially to the democratic primary, so it’s sort of the hot bed of conversation going on right now,” Donna Griffin of Nashua, NH said.
Candidates know the importance of the New Hampshire primary too. Leading up to the big day, presidential hopefuls spend weeks visiting voters all over the Granite State.
“My wife and I have been to see many candidates in small settings like people’s houses, and looked them in the eye. It gives us an outsized voice in the nation when we look at a candidate and say, these are the 5 issues that concern me.”Dennis Jakubowski, Loudon, NH
“So you don’t have to have the most fame or fortune to win here. it gives the little guy a chance. That’s what it’s all about.”BILL GARDNER, SECRETARY OF STATE
In New Hampshire, voters who aren’t enrolled in a political party are able to participate in the primary. Independents will be able to choose either a Democratic or Republican ballot when they head to the polls on February 11.