U.S. presidential elections kick off

2012-11-06 05:10:07 GMT2012-11-06 13:10:07(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English
Local resident Tanner Tillotson (R) casts his ballot at a polling station in Dixville Notch in New Hampshire, the United States, Nov. 6, 2012. Villagers in Dixville Notch cast votes just after midnight, kicking off U.S. presidential elections on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Gu Zhenqiu)Local resident Tanner Tillotson (R) casts his ballot at a polling station in Dixville Notch in New Hampshire, the United States, Nov. 6, 2012. Villagers in Dixville Notch cast votes just after midnight, kicking off U.S. presidential elections on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Gu Zhenqiu)
Local residents fill in their ballots and wait to cast them at a polling station in Dixville Notch in New Hampshire, the United States, Nov. 6, 2012. Villagers in Dixville Notch cast votes just after midnight, kicking off U.S. presidential elections on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Zhang Chuanshi)Local residents fill in their ballots and wait to cast them at a polling station in Dixville Notch in New Hampshire, the United States, Nov. 6, 2012. Villagers in Dixville Notch cast votes just after midnight, kicking off U.S. presidential elections on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Zhang Chuanshi)
Local residents wait to cast their ballots at a polling station in Dixville Notch in New Hampshire, the United States, Nov. 6, 2012. Villagers in Dixville Notch cast votes just after midnight, kicking off U.S. presidential elections on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Gu Zhenqiu)Local residents wait to cast their ballots at a polling station in Dixville Notch in New Hampshire, the United States, Nov. 6, 2012. Villagers in Dixville Notch cast votes just after midnight, kicking off U.S. presidential elections on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Gu Zhenqiu)

Voters in the tiny New Hampshire town of Dixville Notch cast their votes just after midnight, kicking off the quadrennial U.S. presidential elections on Tuesday.

The town is the first to cast ballots in the nation. Polling stations elsewhere are generally open between morning till nightfall on election day.

Only ten voters cast their ballots, and the result showed a tie, with President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney each garnering 5 votes.

"This has never happened before in Dixville Notch: five votes for President Obama, and five votes for Governor Romney," Tom Tilotson, the election moderator whose father Neil Tillotson was the founder of the legendary voting tradition in the small town, said as he was opening the tally.

The first voter, Tanner Tillotson, was decided by lottery drawing shortly after 23:00 EST (0400 GMT Tuesday). Tanner, 24, is grandson of Neil Tillotson.

"It's a great honor for me to be selected as the first voter this year," he told Xinhua, adding that it is the second time for him to vote first in the small town since the 2008 presidential elections. He said that he just voted for President Obama, as he did four years ago.

A local ski lodge, a grey bungalow in the ski resort, was used as a makeshift polling station for the 2012 presidential elections.

The ballot box, with a brass lock on it, was placed under the big sign, which says "Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, the First in the Nation."

Reporters from all over the world outnumbered the voters in the polling station in the hamlet in northern New Hampshire.

"This event is covered worldwide, it's a center of political universe for a moment of time," E.J. Powers, the spokesman for the Balsams Resort Grand Hotel, told Xinhua.

It was snowing as the voting began in Dixville Notch, and the temperature stood at minus five degrees Celsius.

Dixville Notch is well known for its longstanding middle-of-the-night vote in the U.S. presidential elections, a symbolic event which marks the casting of the first ballots and the elections' initial results.

"I think that is part of the reason that we get the attention, because people are curious (about) what the first votes are going to be," Rick Erwin, the town clerk, told Xinhua. "Of course, lots of people (in the United States) have voted already, but we are the first one to give the results. So, I think people find it interesting."

"You know, it's a beautiful place, it's a great place to live and work," he said. "And certainly, it's good to have people know that we exist here."

Economy and jobs are the most important issue of the presidential campaign.

In the question of how to grow the economy and create jobs, Obama advocates more economic fairness, investment in education and infrastructure, protecting welfare for the poor, elderly and disabled and taxing the rich to pay down deficit. Romney, on the other hand, advocates limited government to battle federal deficit and public debt, and deregulation and tax cuts to spur the economy.

The election also pits the two candidates on issues of healthcare, national security and immigration, but they were overshadowed by all important economic concerns, which include a weak economy and high unemployment rate that stayed above 8 percent for nearly four years until September, when it dipped to 7.8 percent but edged back up to 7.9 percent on Friday.

Under the electoral college system, U.S. voters only cast their ballots for a slate of electors of the U.S. Electoral College, who in turn elect the president and vice president. The majority of states use the "winner-takes-all" principal when it comes to electoral votes, meaning a candidate gets all of such a state's electoral votes when the candidate wins the state's popular votes.

Under such a system, the traditional "red" or "blue" states don't determine the outcome of the election. It is the swing states such as Ohio, Virginia and Florida that swing the election. Both candidates shaped their campaign around the seven to twelve swing states.

U.S. experts have said it's hard to predict the outcome of this year's presidential race, as numerous polls indicated the race to be close, although Obama maintains a slight yet consistent lead in several swing states.

In addition to presidential elections, voters are also voting Tuesday for 33 Senate seats, all 435 House of Representative seats, 11 state governor seats and numerous local offices.

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