NEW HAMPSHIRE (WWLP) – New Hampshire is always the first state to vote, in a series of nationwide primary elections held every four years.
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 7 days before any other state.
Secretary of State, Bill Gardner, told 22News, “We had to come up with ways to make sure that we could keep the tradition, and we came up with ways.”
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, Gardner moved up the New Hampshire vote to January 8, keeping the tradition alive.
Voters take pride in knowing that what they decide in the voting booth can determine if a presidential candidate’s future.
“I think it’s a great distinction for the state to have first-in-the-nation primary,” said Larry Weinert of Wilton, New Hampshire.
Donna Griffin added, “It’s a critical state to what’s going on, especially to the Democratic primary, so it’s sort of the hotbed of conversation going on right now.”
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,” Dennis Jakubowski of Loudon, NH, said. “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.”
Gardner added on saying, “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.”
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.